The Reno River Festival is really like no other paddling festival. The truth is that it is a Reno Festival that happens at the river. While there are the usual river festival events - freestyle, downriver, boatercross - these events seem like mere entertainments to the thousands of passersby who wander through the park. Most visitors have never been kayaking, may not even know what kayaking is, but they enjoy the antics of the silly folks in the brightly colored boats. As such the atmosphere is a little different than say the Kern Festival. It seems to be more about selling things and less about hanging out with everyone. I helped to set up the CCK booth on Friday and we sold far more hats and Hawaiian shirts than PFD's or paddles. Our used boats got many curious lookieloos who have no intention of ever putting a blade into the water.
But the way to make it enjoyable is to hang out with the folks you do you and try to avoid the Reno madness (unless you're into that sort of thing in which case I know several folks who had a great time and late nights). I was teaching the free clinics over the weekend so spent my days with my fellow CCK instructors on and off the water. We did four 1.5 hour clinics each day and it made for a crazy frenzy of getting folks into boats and on the water with enough time left to fly through some instruction before getting back to get ready for the next class. We did a Freestyle clinic, beginner, intermediate and advanced. Luckily we had a rotation so some folks were teaching while the others were taking sign ups and sorting gear. It was all the usual controlled chaos but ended up quite well with many very happy students.