By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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Olympic Raft and Kayak, which has hosted the popular spring paddle convention for a dozen years, announced that this year's symposium has been canceled.
Morgan Colonel, second-year owner of the store at 123 Lake Aldwell Road, said he made a difficult “business decision” to scratch the event, which had been planned for April 12-14.
“I know this decision will not be a popular one, and I do understand what PAKS means to everyone,” Colonel wrote in an email to paddlers that he posted at www.raftandkayak.com.
“Please believe me, this has been a heavy weight on my shoulders, but ultimately I have to put the business before anything, even my own heart sometimes. I believe that this was such a difficult decision for me because I do understand what an event like this means to the local and regional community.”
The Port Angeles Kayak Symposium typically is held at Hollywood Beach and the Port Angeles Red Lion Hotel.
It offers clinics for beginners and seasoned paddlers, attracts guest speakers and provides “test-drives” of new and used kayaks.
The symposium was organized by former Olympic Raft and Kayak owner Dave King, who retired more than a year ago.
In 2011, King delegated some of the responsibilities of the symposium to a business partner in Oak Harbor.
The symposium hosted hundreds of attendees in its later years.
Colonel, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, apologized in his letter for not announcing the cancellation sooner.
“We would also like everyone to know that our enthusiasm for the event has not faded,” Colonel wrote.
“As we mentioned, this is a business decision but a symposium type of event is still something that has a big place in our hearts.
“Our future plans are to involve the other local kayak shops, local vendors, etc . . . and re-create the event but as of right now, we cannot do that.
“However, rest assured, we will be busy figuring out how we can.”
Olympic Raft and Kayak offer river trips, sea tours, whitewater and sea kayak instruction and rentals at its shop west of Port Angeles.
It also puts on the Hobuck Hoedown, a surf kayak festival-competition at Hobuck Beach near Neah Bay. This year's hoedown is scheduled for Oct. 6-7.
“As of right now, we will be focusing our energy and resources into the core of the business and our event planning for the Hobuck Hoedown,” Colonel said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at email@example.com.