Kayak race is model for other projects

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A few people — maybe more than a few — thought Keith Benoist’s dream of bringing a kayak race to the Mississippi River was a flash in the pan back in 2002 when the Phatwater Kayak Challenge began.

Now, just after the eighth Phatwater was completed last weekend and 161 competitors participated in the event, few people question the event’s importance and ability to bring some visitors to town who would otherwise likely never come to Natchez.

Through much hard work and personal perspiration Benoist has turned Natchez into a kayaking town with all sorts of residents from a diverse background now participating in the recreational sport.

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And although not every resident may think spending a Saturday morning paddling 42.5 miles down the swirling Mississippi River is a fun outing, a few think it’s a blast. And some think it’s enough of a blast to come from miles and miles just to participate.

Benoist’s vision for the Phatwater should serve as a model for what an investment in recreation in our community could do both in terms of getting more people working together and in terms of bringing outsiders to town. We hope that residents will strongly consider the possibilities that the Nov. 3 vote on recreation could do for Natchez-Adams County’s future.

In the meantime, we all owe a hearty “thanks” to visionaries such as Benoist who stick their necks out to bring new events to the area, even in the face of skeptics.

Hopefully, we have some more visionaries out there who can see the benefits of investing in our future and in our recreational facilities.