As more states and provinces declare emergencies and people practice social distancing due to the spread of COVID-19, the ripples are being felt across the paddling world.

Here are the latest updates:

March 19: The Yukon River Quest has cancelled the longest annual canoe and kayak race in the world for 2020. World SUP Cup in Germany is cancelled and will return in 2021.

March 18: Old Town Canoes and Kayaks is suspending operations at its Old Town, Maine, location until April 5. All Ontario Provincial Parks are closed, including for day use and backcountry use until April 30. All MEC retail locations closed until March 30. The Yukon 1000 is postponed until 2021.

March 17: SUP’s Carolina Cup postponed until November,

March 15: All 162 REI locations closed until March 27.

March 13: Banff Mountain Film Festival screenings suspended.

Canoecopia Cancelled

March 12: In the evening on March 12, 2020, Paddling Magazine reached Canoecopia organizer and Rutabaga Paddlesports owner Darren Bush who confirmed the annual Canoecopia show has been canceled, less than 24 hours before it was set to open.

From March 13 to 15, 2020, paddling enthusiasts were set to descend on Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin, the largest paddlesports consumer event in the world, featuring more than 50,000 square feet of boats and gear and 180 educational seminars and clinics. In a year without the coronavirus concerns, 15,000 to 20,000 people could be expected to come through the doors.

“We had to call it, there’s just too much at stake”

“We had to call it, there’s just too much at stake,” said Bush. “We saw the COVID-19 develop so rapidly, we decided to do the right and safe thing. The paddling community is so supportive, I’m confident we’ll recover quickly. We wanted our customers and staff to be safe, full stop.”

Bush said it was too soon to say whether the event was being postponed or outright canceled for the year. However, Canoecopia tickets purchased for 2020 will be honored in 2021, according to the Canoecopia website. An official announcement hasn’t been made at the time of writing, but will be located here.

Prior to Bush’s statement, Canoecopia organizers noted, “About a dozen [exhibitors] have had to pull out due to travel restrictions from the corporate office or from government agencies.”

“If you are concerned, especially if you are from a high-risk group, have family members who are high-risk, consider staying home this year,” it continued. On March 12, Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced an additional two cases of COVID-19 in the state, bringing the total to eight confirmed cases.

Canoecopia’s Facebook post on the subject has several comments from attendees stating they had canceled their travel plans.

Nova Craft was among the exhibitors who declined to attend Canoecopia, releasing this statement via Facebook on Thursday, March 12:

Presenter and guidebook author, Kevin Callan, also canceled his attendance on March 11, 2020, in the wake of a request from his employer to avoid out of country travel to conferences. He hopes some tech-savvy folks at Canoecopia will be able to video conference him in. Presenter Camper Christina also canceled her attendance.

Ontario Backcountry Canoe Symposium Cancelled

The coronavirus outbreak is affecting other gatherings as well, with the Ontario Backcountry Canoe Symposium announcing it is canceling their April gathering in Ontario.

Banff Mountain Film Festival Suspended

As of March 13th, all Banff Mountain Film Festival screenings in the United States have been suspended.

Outdoor Retailer Coronavirus Update

Many in the outdoor industry are waiting to see how the coronavirus might affect the summer tradeshow season. A statement from Outdoor Retailer on March 4, 2020, said organizers were monitoring how the outbreak might affect the June 23-25 tradeshow in Denver, Colorado, but did not “forsee any changes at this time.”

The Big Gear Show Coronavirus Update

The Big Gear Show’s Kenji Karoutunian told on March 4 that:
“There are questions coming in from retailers and we’re addressing those; mostly, people just want to know what the plan is, what to tell staff and families. We’re trying to communicate to them that we’re on top of it, we’re gathering info from the city of Salt Lake, the CDC, the various regional jurisdictions. We have retailers registered in 38 states for BGS, so watching things carefully is important. But we’re trying to send out a more level-headed, factual kind of communication.”

Concerned paddlers can get updates and advice for preventing illness from the CDC here and the Government of Canada.

Is your paddling event being postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak? Send us a tip at editor [at] paddlingmag [dot] com.


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