Outdoor Festival offers free classes all week

University Recreation added to free festival, fitness clinics this year



Instructors teach beginning climbers the ropes at Granite Point during the belay clinic at the Palouse Outdoor Festival on Sept. 23, 2017. This year’s festival will be held Saturday at Wawawai County Park and encourages participants of all levels of experience.

CHLOE GRUNDMEIER, Evergreen reporter

The Palouse offers countless outdoor recreation activities through its cliffs, hiking trails and rivers. The Outdoor Recreation Center wants to raise awareness for its programming through the fifth annual Palouse Outdoor Festival.

“It’s important to show off our regional outdoor rec resources,” Outdoor Programs Coordinator Matt Wagner said. “The Outdoor Festival is a great brain break after the first week of classes and a free opportunity to try something new.”

The festival will take place at Wawawai County Park, where attendees will have the opportunity to try out several beginner-level recreation activities such as kayaking, rock climbing, stand-up paddle boarding and more.

“Wawawai County Park has a lot of resources in a really small area,” Wagner said. “The facilities themselves are great, and there’s nice water access and Granite Point is just a mile and a half down the road with great rock climbing.”

Outdoor Program Coordinator Matt Wagner describes how participating in the festival benefits students.

Throughout the week leading up to the festival, the ORC is hosting free beginner-level classes for WSU students to test and see what they enjoy. Chris Soth, Student Recreation Center climbing wall supervisor, led a few rock-climbing clinics throughout the week to get people excited for the Palouse Outdoor Festival.

“Even if you think something isn’t for you, you never really know until you try it, especially with outdoor recreation activities,” Soth said. “If you’re not super experienced, there’s only one way to get better, and that’s by just going out and doing it.”

During the bouldering orientation and climbing movement class Soth held, he taught the attendees about the different kinds of equipment needed, as well as the hardest parts of climbing and how to avoid injury. Several participants had never rock climbed before but wanted to learn to join family members or increase their upper body strength.

“By coming to the classes before going to the festival on Saturday, you’re building the skills that you’ll need at the park,” SRC Climbing Wall Supervisor Kiera Magrane said. “You can take the skills you learned during the week and apply them on Saturday.”

Soth loves rock climbing and wants to contribute to it by connecting the community to his passion. He enjoys the Palouse Outdoor Festival because he can do just that.

“It’s a great opportunity to connect people from WSU and [University of Idaho] to the outdoors, because most of them don’t even know the resources the ORC offers,” he said. “This is a great way for us to show everyone what is available to them and give them the opportunity to connect with others who enjoy outdoor activities as well.”

Registration for classes for the rest of the week is required two days in advance and most of the clinics are full, but the Palouse Outdoor Festival begins 10 a.m. Saturday at Wawawai County Park. Registration for activities begins at 9:30 a.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

“Going to the festival is a great way to try something you like the idea of but never have had the time or the money to commit to,” Wagner said. “It’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself to a new activity that could become a lifelong passion.”