TUCK FEST: Celebrate the Outdoors/ Beer, music and competitions in the world’s most unique outdoor playground
This April 19 through 22, 50,000 people are projected to head out to the U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) in Charlotte, North Carolina for what’s become the largest celebration of the outdoor lifestyle in the nation. Tuck Fest has it all. Side by side, professional athletes from all over the United States and local enthusiasts will take on over 35 trail running, kayaking, biking, climbing, stand-up paddle boarding, obstacle, and adventure racing competitions. Crowds will gather to watch climbers maneuver up the holds of an overhanging wall as fast as they can for a $15,000 cash purse, only to jump off once they reach the top of the climb and take a 45-foot plunge into the pool of the world’s largest deep water solo climbing complex. Anyone and everyone will enjoy exhibitions, demos, clinics with professional athletes, live music, good food and beer. Shakey Graves, Deer Tick, The Wood Brothers and ten other bands will rock the outside stages for lively audiences under blue skies and vivid stars as kayakers run “Big Drop” on the surrounding whitewater competition channel and people fly overhead on zip lines. There’s something for everyone, and no matter what first brings you out to Tuck Fest or the USNWC, you’ll leave having much more that’s going to bring you back.
The name “Tuck Fest” comes from the Tuckaseegee Ford and Trail, a historical landmark located at the facility, but as Adam Bratton, Marketing Manager of the USNWC puts it, “Tuck Fest simply celebrates what we do out here every day on a bigger platform. When you boil it all the way down, we’re trying to provide an opportunity for everyone no matter who you are to engage in the outdoors. You may be the best climber in the world, or you may be a mom pushing her stroller and walking her dog along our trails. We offer free yoga 300 days a year, a race series with 5 ks up to a 50-mile ultramarathon. Music, food, and beer provide opportunities to get out here and maybe see paddling or climbing for the first time. What it all is is that we’re just trying to provide opportunities for people to be outdoors in their own way.”
The U.S. National Whitewater Center is truly the only facility of its kind in the entire world. It began as a seemingly crazy idea of visionary Jeff Wise to build a man-made river in Charlotte, North Carolina. The “Center” was deemed to be the official training site of the U.S.A. Olympic Canoe and Kayak team, and would also offer opportunities for the public to kayak, raft, recreate on the Catawba River, and trail walk, run and mountain bike in the forested areas around the artificial river. The man-made whitewater course would be the first of its size and kind. The idea as Wise proposed it was that water would be pumped from a lower pond to an upper pond and flow down channels of various levels of difficulty, and that this “river” would be the center of a place that provided a catalyst for people to simply get outside. Opening in 2006, the USNWC has grown from “a crazy idea” to an immense facility, community and outdoor culture inspiration that includes over 30 land and water-based activities, outdoor instruction and certification programs, festivals, races, films, and various outdoor events throughout the year on over 1300 acres. School programs, summer camps, veterans programs… it’s impossible to capture everything the USNWC offers, but it is clear that the place has become a true center of building a stronger community.
As Bill Johnston, founder of Recover notes, “That place makes the city so much better; it truly changes my perception of living here and is one of the reasons we have kept Recover’s headquarters in Charlotte.”
Recover has been the USNWC’s official merchandise partner for five years. “One part of the USNWC’s mission statement is environmental stewardship,” describes Bratton. “Recover is completely in tune with minimizing impacts on the environment, and our partnership is a great example of the perfect opportunity to feed into our mission. It’s a local brand, good, quality product and our organizations believe in a lot of similar things. I love that aspect, the environmental stewardship and the local tie-in.”
In addition to promoting environmental stewardship, with 13.5 million people living within 150 miles, the whitewater center has become this unique and needed stepping stone between the ongoing trend of increasing growth in urbanized areas, and the potentially missed lessons and simple enjoyment that come from literally playing in the outdoors.
"The USNWC provides a way for me to reconnect with nature and get that ‘lost in the woods’ feeling while living in a city,” describes Recover’s Operations Manager Kyle Clark. “It also provides a lot of opportunities to challenge yourself and have some incredible new experiences that you might otherwise have to travel across the country for. From pushing myself on the trails to checking out new bands and hanging out with friends, the whitewater center provides a great environment to be active and also unwind. We're so lucky to have it in our backyard!" While you can easily whitewater kayak, climb, mountain bike and go to outdoor yoga and a free concert after work at the Center all in one evening, the experiences that you have at the USNWC inspire you both to keep coming back and to explore outdoor playgrounds beyond city limits.
This Thursday, Tuck Fest kicks off the annual celebration of living an active and outdoor lifestyle by putting on a party for you and all of your best friends. As always, the music, trails, yoga, competition spectating, and more at the whitewater center are available for a mere parking fee of $5, but be sure to check out everything Tuck Fest has to offer and grab an all-sport pass to play for the day. This year is the first year, Tuck Fest is kicking off on Thursday, adding an entire extra day of music, competitions and more to the event. Stop by the Recover booth, and we’ll see you out there!