Paddleboarding will be front and centre in the first-ever Sooke Harbour Festival on Saturday (Ayg. 20).

Sooke Harbour Festival hits the water Saturday

The day highlights the potential of the Sooke Basin and encourages the protection of the environment through its use.

The Sooke Harbour Festival is coming to Ed MacGregor Park on Saturday (Aug. 20).

The event, organized for the first time by Quinn Yates, outdoor literacy coordinator for the Edward Milne Society in Sooke, aims to address the need for more events in the community.

More so, Yates said he wanted to build a day that highlights the potential of the Sooke Basin and encourages the protection of the environment through its use.

“The Sooke Harbour Festival will give us the opportunity to engage a large group of people in the beauty of our coastal town while encouraging them to listen to local music, view local artists and try local food,” he said.

The harbour festival is largely focused around five water sports races, the majority of which are standup paddleboard-oriented. The first main event is a 7.3-kilometre race from Cooper’s Cove and ends in front of the boardwalk.

On top of that, there will also be relay races (for ages under 12) along with a sprint race, and a one-kilometre recreational race.

Yates feels this is a basis for encouraging the community to come together for a day, while also focusing on Sooke’s jewels: its harbour.

“I’ve been a Sooke local for the last 20 years,” Yates said.

“I feel that the harbour and our waterways are extremely underused, especially for the potential that they hold, he said. “I think Sooke shares many things with Ucluelet and Tofino, but no one on the South Island knows about it.”

Only the first long distance races is open to kayaks, the rest are reserved for standup paddleboarding.

Of course, there’s more than just water sports. Most of the action will happen on the boardwalk, which will feature, for the first time, three live music bands, along with vendors.

“The boardwalk is incredible, and I feel like it could totally be a destination for people to come check out, but nothing really goes on,” Yates said, adding that the limited access for people to bring in equipment is something that makes it difficult to organize anything.

At the end of the day though, it’s a free event for people to come and enjoy, Yates noted, adding that the only fees pertain to registering in certain races, which hover around $20 to $25.

The Sooke Harbour Festival goes from starts at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, pleasecontact Quinn Yates by email at: quinncampbellyates@gmail.com.