MuRF 2017 — (AAR) – After Action Review

MuRF 2017 — (AAR) – After Action Review

Hello Murfers! Wow, what a great weekend it was at the Muddy Rivers Festival.  This year was so fun, and it appears that the MuRF movement is still growing.


This year we had close to 250 people, including the volunteers, that attended our event. Now, that’s not counting the folks from the general public who attended our Demo Court and our ramp competition. If I had to guess I’d say about 300 people total. But its not the number of people attending that matters, it’s the quality of the people attending.


We had some great MuRFers this year! People like Nick, who rode in on a bicycle from Wisconsin, and learned about our killer sports and lifestyle.  After talking with him at length, we told him he’s be great at a Summer job of raft guiding. Nick, if you’re reading this, try Sunburst, Adventures Unlimited, or Ocoee Outdoors. All of them should be hiring now in anticipation of the Summer rush.


Also, the fellas from the band, The Hoppin’ Boxcars. I had the pleasure of talking with the lead singer of this 10 piece original folk band that was our Saturday night Headliner. I love how their music tells a story, and all the members of the band dress like their character in said story. Each song was another chapter in the story.  These guys are true artists of the possibly first ever folk opera. Truly Entertaining!


Another person that needs honorable mention, is Jaton Martin. Jaton was the first person to sign up for a volunteer slot at the festival. She even beat ME to it! Not only was she the first volunteer, but she also donated the most time to the gate, working a majority of the time. We really hope to have her helping with planning for next year and with us next year at the festival.  Jaton, if you’re reading this, and you’re interested, shoot me a message please! We have several other events throughout the year that rely on volunteers too. You’d be a great asset.


Hats off to Herbert and Amber Clark for allowing us to use your beautiful property for the fourth year in a row. Without your support, none of this would even be possible. The June Bug is the perfect place to come together in support of our Armed Forces veterans, through Team River Runner.


Our water levels were low again this year, but that didn’t stop us from having our fun. Friday during the day, several folks from the festival ventured out, as a group, on the Cumberland Plateau.  I wish I could have gone with them, but my gate duties trumped my fun. I stayed back and set up the gate while they frolicked and played on Clear Creek Jett to Lilly.


Friday night was great, and included special performances from Ryan Olson and Nick Cross. Everyone mingled and had a good time. The performers in the bar and on the main stage alike stole the show. The weather was beautiful and the music was great.  Everyone had a fantastic time. Nate Thompson, with Boots on Broadway really hooked us up by providing a majority of our artists for the Main Stage and Bar.  Thanks Nate!


Saturday morning everyone woke up late, per the usual. The Upper Spring Creek float was low and beautiful as always.  When we arrived at Waterloo Falls, we were greeted with the sight of at least a hundred people mingling, talking, and demo’ing whitewater kayaks.  James Sayne played guitar and Music City Weinery cooked hot dogs while water tumbled off 35 foot Waterloo Falls.  


Although the water was low, Tom Hehnen, Sam Davis, Pat Keller, and Jason Crisel ran the falls. Also I was delightfully greeted by my 14 month old son, Liam and the rest of my family, who were helping support the cause.


The Dirt Bag Paddler Magazine, “King of the Spring” race went down without a hitch. We were not able time-wise to do the solo race that started on the seal launch. So instead we did a mass start boater cross race down the lowest water I’ve ever seen on Spring Creek.  It was carnage. through and through.  


Aaron Hiscock took first place and claimed the King of the Spring crown this year, an honor that is passed from winner to winner each year.  Next MuRF, he will have to race again to defend his title or he will have to pass it to the next winner. Later that day, Aaron took a spill off a one-wheel hoverboard, shattering his forearm.  He was presented with his award in Cookeville Regional Hospital by Pat Keller himself.


I made a point of paddling down with Tom to judge the racers, but stopped short when i saw the perfect place to get some good pictures, “Boofalicious.” Boofalicious is a ramp shaped rock dead in the middle of Big Daddy Slide.  I found a dried out rock just below it, got out of my boat so i could see upstream, and got some great shots of all the racers ramping off this awesome feature.


After the race, everyone paddled off down the river to Tom’s house for the World Kayak Big Air ramp competition.There were some great runs, but Jason Crisel took first place with a backflip off the 40 foot tall vert ramp. Great job Jason!


After all the shuttles were complete, everyone settled back in to camp for a night of hanging out, disc golfing, and listening to great tunes, but storm clouds and high winds threatened our fun. Eventually the clouds broke and hard rain fell making us live up to our Muddy Rivers namesake. Things got wild as everyone danced and wrestled in the mud while the killer musicians jammed for us.  The River Funk rocked out hard, playing the best set I’ve ever heard from them.  You guys killed it!


The next morning we woke to clear skies but rain still threatening, so everyone scampered to pack up before the next volley of rain fell.  We were hoping for a redemption run on Spring Creek, but the water never came up.  I guess the rain just didn’t fall in the right places.


All in all, we had another great year at MuRF.  Huge thanks to all who worked so hard and donated their products and time to the show.  This is not the end for us, yet the beginning of another great boating season as the Muddy Rivers Festival 2017 brings in the Spring. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook for information on all our other events throughout the year. Also look for a Veterans’ celebration at Hiwassee Flip-flops July 4th weekend with live bands and fun, as well as whitewater boating!


Until next year, MuRF on MuRFers! – Philip Byard