Fleets of rafts invade the Chattahoochee River, there's music in the air and SweetWater beers are passed around Columbus’ Uptown district.
A grand plan? More like master plan; beer, live music and white water rafting. If you don’t fancy getting your feet wet in the Chattahoochee, then keep them firmly on the ground in Uptown, using a steady hand when handling any hooch.
At 6 p.m. on Friday the party gets started on Broadway Street when it's closed off for a block party and live music. Past musicians have included Fire Mountain, Sailing to Denver and country singer Kristina Murray. Glasses of SweetWater beer go down nicely with Nashville's travelling musicians.
Early next morning, 1000 rafters make their way down stream every hour, on the hour. Rafting is discounted between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to $25 per person. If you're up for even more of a challenge and have a bit of extra cash to spend, ‘The Challenge’ run kicks off at 4 p.m and sees competitors taking on rougher rapids than the regular rafting, for $45 per person. Afterwards you can look forward to the Powerhouse Paddler Party which overlooks the Waveshaper Rapid where competitors have been battling with the water all day long. Competitors receive a complementary wristband and souvenir cup and over 21s receive a ticket for a glass of SweetWater beer, which hits the spot after a hard hour's paddling.
The SweetWater Brewing Company is one of four organisers (the others are The Georgia Conservancy, Whitewater Express and Uptown Columbus) behind The Grand and proceeds go towards the Georgia Conservancy, a non-profit organisation which works to conserve the natural reserves of Georgia. For more than a hundred years dams slowed the mighty Chattahoochee River to a snail's pace but now that the dams have been deconstructed, the longest stretch of urban whitewater on the planet charges right through Columbus.
Whether you’re drinking down SweetWater's finest in Uptown or paddling yourself downstream, Columbus is sure to show you a grand old (beer-based) time.
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