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A Chat With Megan Pfeiffer

Posted Feb 27 2008 12:00am

When you move like a jellyfish
Rhythm don’t mean nothing
You go with the flow

I’m really pleased to get to share with you a chat with Megan Pfieffer.  I realized that although you may have heard me mention the "Queen of Canoecopia" on KQuix occasionally,  you may not know who she is.  She’s a bit of a ninja in her own right, and manages to be everywhere and yet often unseen.  So maybe I should call this post “Megan Pfeiffer Exposed”. . .

Although I won’t share her age or cell number, I will say Megan resides in Madison, WI and is a bright, funny, organized type person who I hear is still into “Battleship”.  Megan works for Rutabaga in Madison and is one of the organizers behind Canoecopia & the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium.  Although there is probobly not a vendor or presenter at Canoecopia who has not gone through Megan, the rest of us may not know all the work she does behind the scenes to make the show come off each year.  I asked Megan if she would talk to us a bit about the big show and the work she does behind the scenes.   So let’s gab with the Queen, shall we?. . .

d – Here in the Midwest we are pretty familiar with Canoecopia.  But for those of us who are not familiar, can you tell us a bit more about the “big show”?

Megan – Canoecopia is the largest consumer based canoe and kayak show that takes place annually in our lovely town of Madison Wisconsin each March.  The show attracts paddling enthusiasts and beginners alike for a variety of reasons; maybe it’s the 170+ amazing paddling & non-paddling presentations, demonstrations, hand on exhibits & product demos running all three days, maybe it’s the camaraderie of seeing your extended paddling family/community each year even when the water is still frozen to discuss the years paddling plans and share stories of trips past, Or maybe even its the great deals on a wide range of products from over 100 different manufactures. No matter the reason, Canoecopia seems to have the answer.

d – Ah, you fit everything in there! Nice!  It’s interesting that the “World’s Largest Paddle Sports Expo” is right here in the Midwest. I’m sure some would find that surprising.  What is it about the Midwest that it can support such a large paddling event?

Megan – The Midwest is not only home to the only Rutabaga Paddlesports in the world, whom hosts the event, so that is a huge help I am sure:) But also the  proximity to many wonderful and varied paddling destinations. We are lucky enough to have the Great Lakes, small meandering rivers and creeks as well as exciting whitewater and many other beautiful paddling locations.

d – Can you tell us a bit about Rutabaga’s philosophy and how Canoecopia fits in?

Megan – In the most general of all things Rutabaga’s missions says it exists to foster sustainable communities that enjoy and respect the earth and our environment. Canoecopia creates a whole ton excitement and energy geared around enjoying the water and taking care of what we have (bodies, and equipment)

d – Ok. I can’t help but ask.  How many boats are actually sold at Canoecopia each year?

Megan – Some things we will never tell….what we are really looking for is 100% of the boats that are sold are the right boats for the right people, year in and year out. 

d – (you can’t say I didn’t try!!) Occasionally readers will catch me teasing you about being the “Queen” of Canoecopia.  Well, other than waving your scepter around,  what part do you play in putting on the show each year?

Megan – Nah that’s it really, I just wave the scepter around and poof! it all happens, it’s really cool how i have that worked out :) In reality, we all work hard to make sure the show is a wonderful experience for all involved, we are a great team here at Rutabaga, I just happen to be really organized and great with details so it all works out.

d – When do you start planning for Canoecopia?  I know it’s quite early.

Megan – When am I not working on the show?! was I suppose to stop really…? Hum no one ever mentioned that.

d – ( B-6 if you’re playing along at home) Each year Canoecopia has a huge number of guest speakers.  How do you go about choosing who will present each year?  If someone is interested in presenting what do they need to do?

Megan – That is a great questions indeed Derrick. Many folks are refereed to us from past attendees, current manufactures or word on the street. We do start accepting applications for speakers as early as April. All folks need to do is contact myself via email and I will send a form out for them to fill out and send back our way. We so sit down and make our speaker selection in early Oct. for the next year’s show.

d – Once the show’s underway, do things slow down for you?  What sort of stuff are you responsible for at the event itself?

Megan – I also work quite a bit with our Door County Sea Kayak Symposium and run our Youth Outdoor Programs dept. along with a few other events thrown into the mix. It is great to have such a variety of duties, I like the changes and wearing different hats throughout the year. Plus teaching a bunch during the spring and summer is just great. Time out of the "office" is always nice.

d – So there you were on YouTube paddling a canoe with a big letter “M” in the back of your canoe. What was that all about? You’re on busses now? 

Megan – Yeah you got me. This past fall I was part of MG & Es Mpowering Madison campaign which is set up to encourage folks to  offset the carbon emissions generated by your electricity use by choosing to purchase clean, renewable electricity. So I was able to spend a very windy afternoon paddling around with a giant letter M in my canoe. It felt kinda like being part of Sesame Street. Buses, newspaper, TV commercials…the whole works…

d – Lastly putting work aside, can you tell us a bit about what turns you on about paddling personally? Any fun adventures you’d like to share?

Megan – Last fall I had a wonderful experience with my dear friend Mr. Danny Mongno down at Tybee surfin off of the triangle. I swear to you, a small dolphin slid onto the deck of my boat while he was fishing the face of the wave, stalled on my boat and slid back in the other side, needless to say i lost all concentration and received a beating – but oh man was it worth it. A week I will never forget indeed.

Hey Megan, thanks for that.  I promise not to encourage people to chase you around with cameras this year.  

Canoecopia 2008 is just 9 days off and will be held at the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, WI.  For ticket information, Vendors & Speakers lists and all the rest just visit the website at  Oh, did I mention I was speaking this year?  Look out Batman!

Also for those of you who attended the Door County Sea Kayak Symposium in the past or are just interested in what goes on up there, you may be interested in a little reception on Saturday at 4:30pm.  The DCSKS Reception will be held in the Killarney Room on the event grounds.  Yeah, they are hauling out lots of pictures of all of us in compromising positions, so you don’t want to miss that!

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