Moderate weather, good food, an ebbing river, Cahaba lilies and friends, what more is needed for a great event? To make it annual.

Tallapoosa County Tourism held the first ever Tallapoosa River Fest Saturday and are already planning the next one.

“We are already brainstorming for next year, what worked, what didn’t and what can make it better,” Tallapoosa County Tourism director Sandra Fuller said. “We are already trying to see what we can add and even add a few more paddlers to the excitement.”

Registration was limited to 125. With a few safety paddlers out as well, about 140 kayaks and canoes launched at Horseshoe Bend Military Park Saturday to experience the Tallapoosa River and the Cahaba lilies. Fuller said many who took part were not from the area.

“There were more than 90 not from Tallapoosa County,” Fuller said. “They covered 40 plus cities and towns in Alabama. They came from as far away as North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.”

Fuller said Alabama participants came from as far away as Foley and Muscle Shoals.

“We are going to be doing a survey this week,” Fuller said. “We are going to be asking them questions about how this worked and rate us but some of the questions will be asking about an overnight stay. Some came from far away and some who literally got up early, early and made the drive. We would love for people to stay. That is the purpose of doing something like this as well as bringing to the attention of the state and others about our river.”

Fuller said many of the paddlers were attracted because of the river and some saw the advantages of gathering at Kylee Cooper Farms.

“There are paddlers that like organized groups on the water,” Fuller said. “There were some who also greatly enjoyed the other things we had going on like the food, music and booths. We felt at times we weren’t as organized as we wanted to be but what we heard is they felt it was very well organized. That is a great compliment for us to see them feel that way. We heard they enjoyed the river, and thought the lilies were beautiful.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.