Over 30 adventurous souls took to the waters of Amesbury's Lake Gardner Saturday both canoeing and searching for treasure in the first annual Lake Gardner Canoe-O, an effort to foster stewardship of the lake.
“I would describe it as an Easter egg hunt where we tell you where the Easter eggs are,” said race director Shawn Burke of the New England Canoe and Kayak Racing Association (NECKRA).
Burke designed the scavenger-hunt style course, looking to satisfy the dual purpose of bringing people to the lake and giving them an interesting course with goals to achieve on land and water. Three courses were set up: short, medium and long.
“There is the paddling part, and then there is the problem-solving part,” said Burke, who came up from Andover. “We present you with a map, showing the locations that you go to, and you have to figure out the best route through them that would get you through in the shortest amount of time.”
Racers also had to find controls along the way to complete their course.
“I’ve been here before for races,” said Burke. “But they were too small to draw people from outside the area. So, really what the Lake Gardner people were looking at is focusing on the local area. There’s a really interesting geography to it.”
The Lake Gardner Improvement Association’s Bruce Georgian had been running canoe races for the past few years, but wanted to attract more people to his home town this time around.
“People tell me, they found Amesbury,” said Georgian. “They go through the downtown because you can’t just fall off the highway to get here. They go to the winery, they go to Flatbreads, they go to the shops downtown and they love it. This is really nice. So it helps the town for those reasons.”\