NOCtoberfest takes over Nantahala Gorge

Showcasing all the great things fall has to offer, NOCtoberfest will be an all-day event Oct. 27 at the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Nantahala Gorge.

Besides food and a beer garden, there will also be the inaugural Flint Ridge 5-mile trail race, Great Pumpkin Pursuit paddling event and a costume party at Slow Joe’s Café. Live music by Chalwa will be provided at 4 p.m. in Slow Joe’s Café.

The Great Pumpkin Pursuit is free to participate in and kicks off at 2 p.m. Rafts of costumed NOC staff will disperse 400 numbered pumpkins into the Nantahala River. Paddlers will compete to collect as many pumpkins as possible, with each pumpkin number entered into the famous raffle (only one prize per paddler). The event is intended to be a free-for-all and NOC appreciates the ingenuity of the contestants.

NOC stresses “safety first, pumpkins second”. You must sign a waiver to participate and helmets are required for all participants. Stealing of pumpkins is not allowed and courteous behavior is encouraged. Once the first pumpkin in tossed from the lead raft, the race will begin. Contestants will gather as many pumpkins as they can, while also racing to the finish. Bonus pumpkins will be given to the first paddlers across the finish line at the Founder’s Bridge. It is advised that juniors and more conservative paddlers find a position near the bottom of the fall to cherry-pick pumpkins from a relatively safe spot. Note that pumpkin-tossing rafts will be focused on tossing pumpkins, not navigation. Be aware of staff and where they are at all times.

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