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Canoe weekend for fun, too

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JOHNSON NEWSPAPERS

CANTON - Sherry M. Elliott sat on a bench on the beach at Taylor Park on Saturday and snapped away, taking photographs of the two men about to put their canoe in the Grasse River to compete in the 51st annual Canton Canoe Weekend.

Miss Elliott, a native of Canton who now lives in Foxboro, Mass., was watching her brother, Steven M. Elliott, and his son, Dillon, participate in the two-man tandem five-mile loop race. She paused for a moment and recalled her uncle, Eugene Elliott, and cousin, Rusty Elliott, and their race exploits in the 1960s and 1970s.

The whole family, in fact.

“We would canoe for fun,” she laughed. “But not like this.”

Under skies that were cloudy in the morning and bursting with sun by midday, the canoe race drew about 70 people in two dozen canoes and kayaks, according to director Charles R. Bolesh. Those numbers were down from last year’s 50th anniversary of the event. But the race, which wraps up today, continues to attract both serious and casual canoeists who travel from across town or from New England and Canada to paddle.

And they will be back for good reason.

“They come back because it’s a well-run event,” Mr. Bolesh said. “And because it’s an excellent and competitive course,”

Peter Jensen-Moulton and his wife, Paula B., of Canton, have been coming to the race since the 1980s, “off and on,” she said. They started out doing it for fun and to this day still like to enjoy themselves when they’re paddling.

But it doesn’t take long to remember that it is, after all, a race.

“You get competitive when you get out there,” Mr. Jensen-Moulton said.

Mr. Bolesh said the canoe weekend attracts paddlers from all over the state as well as Pennsylvania, Canada and, especially, New England.

“There’s a whole circuit of paddling events there,” he said.

Saturday’s races were three, five, eight, 12 and 14-mile contests. Today will feature six, 12 and 14-mile paddles beginning at 9:30 am. at Taylor Park. At 1:30 p.m., the Rushton Team Relay Race will be held.

The event program describes the Rushton race as “the most fun you can have on water.”

Miss Elliott already that.

“Even if they don’t win, it’s the fun of the day,” she said.

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