NINE-YEAR-OLD Oswin Kutcher of Elk Grove balanced expertly on a paddle board Saturday during the 8th Annual Paddlefest in Lodi, cruising smoothly across Lodi Lake.

Paddlefest is a yearly get-together where community members can try kayaking or paddle boards for the first time, or get back on the water if they are familiar with kayaking, said Abigail Christensen, owner of the Lodi Boathouse.

Kristina Jewel, Oswin’s mother, said she became interested in kayaking after last year’s Paddlefest and came back this year with her children.

Live band music played to kick off the event, where a variety of kayaks were lined up for people to ride.

Adults and children were able to ride in single or double kayaks.

“It gives them the opportunity to try kayaking out for the first time and it’s a really easily accessible … like a low-key event for people to come to and it’s just some fun in the sun,” said Christensen.

The swift, calm water allowed children to paddle in the kayaks as long as everyone had on a life jacket.

Bella Coughlin, left, demonstrates paddling to first-time kayakers Julie Turner and Marcos Naha during the 8th Annual Paddlefest at Lodi Lake Park on April 15, 2023. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

Kellen Brophy, who has been working at Paddlefest since last summer, said while some kayaks allow for a smooth ride, people are also able to ride in less stable kayaks but have the advantage of going at a faster speed.

For those attendees who didn’t want to ride in the water there was a food truck, a beach area to play in the sand, and white beach chairs to sit in the sun or shade and watch the event.

Terra Curiel rides a paddle board during the 8th Annual Paddlefest in Lodi on Saturday. Paddle boards provide a more stable ride than a traditional kayak, but aren’t as swift in the water. (Harika Maddala/Bay City News/Catchlight Local)

On one end of the beach there were also demonstration Eddyline and Stellar kayaks, available for people to look at if they were interested in buying a kayak, according to Christensen.

“We have all of our demo kayaks so that people who are interested in purchasing those kayaks can come out and try them before they buy them,” said Christensen.

Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.

Victoria Franco, Bay City News

Victoria Franco is a Stockton-based reporter covering the diverse news around the Central Valley as part of the Report for America program. As a Stockton native, Franco is proud to cover stories within her community and report a variety of coverage. She is a San Jose State University alumna with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism. In her collegiate years she was Managing Editor for the Spartan Daily. From her time at the Spartan Daily she helped lead her staff to California College Media Awards and a General Excellence first place. Victoria encourages readers to email her story tips and ideas at