Two paddlers wave to the crowd in celebration after getting through Six Mile Falls during the 55th running of the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race in Bangor on Saturday, April 16, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race has become a springtime rite of passage for many paddlers in Maine.

Today, the 56th edition of the 16.5-mile race from Kenduskeag Village to downtown Bangor returns with a strong corps of racers and a legion of spectators expected to be on hand.

Waves of paddlers began leaving the starting line in Kenduskeag at 10 a.m., which means the majority of boats won’t be reaching the popular viewing spot at Six Mile Falls until between 11 and 11:30 a.m.

The Bangor Daily News will be livestreaming the action when paddlers start reaching Six Mile Falls.

As of Saturday morning, the Kenduskeag Stream water flow at Six Mile Falls was 793 cubic feet per second. That’s a lower than most racers would like, but it should provide ample water for paddlers to negotiate many of the trickier spots.

Bangor Parks and Recreation, the race organizers, expects approximately 350 craft and 650 people to participate in the event this year. That’s a significant increase over last year, when there were 423 competitors in 220 boats.

Warmer temperatures should make it a good day for paddlers and spectators alike.

Defending champion Trevor MacLean of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, a 16-time overall winner of the race, returns in the hope of continuing his dominance in the kayaking portion of the race.

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...