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The Madison County Chamber of Commerce welcomed Diane McHenry and John Tansil from the Missouri Whitewater Association to speak at its monthly luncheon on March 7.

The 52nd Annual Whitewater Championships will be March 22-24 at Millstream Gardens. 

McHenry said the downriver races will begin at 4:30 p.m. that Friday with a celebration at the end of the night.

"We actually have a band that comes in, anyone is invited," McHenry said. "The races held on Saturday and Sunday are the slalom races at Millstream. There are different classes from Olympic on Saturday morning and all the other age groups going all day long."

McHenry said the Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Forestry will be in the area all weekend. 

"The campground is full, completely full," McHenry said. "The hotels are full."

McHenry said the event brings a lot of people to the town and the association appreciates the way Fredericktown has embraced the whitewater community.

"My husband and John have been kayaking together forever and they started going to Tallulah Gorge, around Clayton, Georgia, and they weren't very welcome there," McHenry said. "They decided as a group to get a big stack of two dollar bills and when they had a run in Tallulah they spent their two dollar bills in their town of Clayton in a way to show them 'hey we aren't all bad, and we bring a lot of money into your community.'"

McHenry said the community was amazed by how many two dollar bills showed up over that weekend and it was a real eye-opener for the community that had been so resistant.

"We are really excited and know that Fredericktown has always embraced the whitewater community," McHenry said. "We would like to get more kids involved as well."

McHenry said there will be a whitewater clinic in April where the Missouri Whitewater Association will have certified instructions available to teach a two-day course.

The clinic will cost $90 for both days with a meal provided. There will be three levels to choose from beginner, intermediate and advanced.

McHenry said both events are made up of a lot of volunteers who jump in to help set up, teach and provide safety for all involved.

"We're lucky to have such a popular event so close to home," Madison County Chamber of Commerce President Tessa Rehkop said. "It's great for our businesses because the traffic the event draws will hopefully come and shop at our stores and eat at our restaurants."

The Madison County Chamber of Commerce will meet for Perk Before Work at 7:30 a.m. March 19 at Country Lane Florist and for its next luncheon at 11:30 a.m. April 4 at Beaver Valley Golf Club.

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Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at vkemper@democratnewsonline.com

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