2023 Paddles for the Marathon

Paddles For The Marathon started in 2021 as a new fundraiser for the Marathon. The event is intended to highlight the talents of local artists through unique pieces of art created on replica canoe paddles.

The artists took inspiration for their work from this year’s Marathon theme “The River, The Race, The Legends: 75 Years on the AuSable”. The paddles were manufactured by the Wood Science Technology Program at Kirtland Community College using locally sourced wood.

The paddles will be on display in select Grayling and Oscoda businesses from June 6th through August 6th. Starting on July 22nd through August 6th an online auction site will be open allowing you to bid for the paddle(s) of your choice. Proceeds from the auction will support The Marathon’s scholarship fund.

More information about the paddles, artists and display locations can be found below.

If you would like to own one of these amazing paddles, you can bid through our on-line auction at 32auctions.com. Bidding begins on July 22nd and runs through August 6th. You can access Paddles For The Marathon bidding site by clicking on the button below. Paddles will be available for pick- up in Grayling or Oscoda, or can be shipped for an additional fee.

Click here to print a list of all paddle locations and artists

2023 Artists & Locations

Click on the artists name to see locations and paddle images

Cherie Nentwig

Location: Tait’s Bill of Fare – Oscoda

This year’s paddle was something I had in my head…I painted and painted to bring it to life. Here’s to the legends…this River remembers each and every one of you who have done this race. Paul and Babe are watching over every racer… best of luck to this year’s competitors! 75 years! The River, the race, the legends!

Dylan Holberton

Location: Rolling Oak Brewing Co. – Grayling 

Dylan is a second year contributor to the Paddles for the Marathon. He is a woodworker from Fairview, Michigan. This year his paddle of a bluegill is made from a menagerie of beautiful wood; walnut, oak, curly maple, and a bit of mahogany and red pine. With his use of epoxy, his bluegill appears to be swimming in the water.

Joann Cullip

Location: Main Branch Gallery – Grayling

This year’s paddle is created with rainbow trout in mind!  I do examine the details and colors found within trout but this paddle involves my decision to take ´artistic license’  by using colors and patterns that are more intricate and intense than natures’ palette.  One side does contain more pastel color choices and portrays trout moving along a path of swiftly  moving currents!  The other side shows brighter colors and trout intricately placed within the available space; a literal ´maze’ of trout.

**This paddle has artwork on both sides.   See addtional images on the auction website.**

Pam Meland

Location: Artisan Village- Grayling

“Three Friends Waiting in Anticipation ” was inspired by my childhood experiences on the Ausable. My dad and I would explore along the banks- finding frogs, turtles and watch the river otter play.


Cheryl Stephan Lowes

Location:  Rolling Oak Brewing Co. – Grayling

Once again, Grayling native, Cheryl Stephan Lowes, created another paddle featuring the Marathon course. Cheryl’s family has deep ties to the race. Her father, Jay Stephan Sr., is a three-time consecutive champion, winning the Marathon with Ted Engel, Jr in 1950 – 1952.
Her paddle this year reenacts her father’s race to commemorate The 75th Ausable River Canoe Marathon.
This item comes with custom mounting brackets and a framed photo of Jay and Ted that was used to create the paddle.


Terry Dickinson

Location: AuSable Artisan Village –  Grayling 

Information coming soon. 

2023 Paddles For the Marathon - Jan Filarski
Jan Filarski

Location: Oscoda – AuSable Chamber of Commerce- Oscoda

I am a trained artist and consider myself one who experiments with ideas and the combination of materials in art. We are an outdoor family and one of my greatest loves is nature and specifically, the water. I was very excited to work on this paddle project and felt like delving into one of the inhabitants these water provide. I usually paint much more abstractly but this painting is fairly realistic. What could I have chosen to paint that is more colorful than a rainbow trout? That was it. And, that is what is on my paddle.


Terry "JR" Akers

Location: Tip N’ the Mitten – Grayling 

Growing up here in Grayling, I was always fascinated by the idea that the town was named after a fish that doesn’t exist here. I heard a rumor that a reintroduction of the species was in the works so I decided to make it the subject of my artwork for the paddle auction. Now that the Crawford County Fish Hatchery is indeed receiving a small school of Grayling, my childhood confusion may finally come to a long overdue end.


Mike Williams

Location: Dead Bear Brewing- Grayling

When creating his second paddle for this year’s auction, Mike took insipartion from Grayling’s namesake the Arctic Grayling. The Grayling was native to about 20 rivers in Northern Michigan, including the AuSable and Manistee, before being declared extinct in 1936. The paddle feautres two Arctic Graylings on the blade and the Grayling Fish Hatchery on the handle.


Rebecca Hauschild

Location: AuSable Artisan Village – Grayling 

Rebecca Hauschild is a fourth generation Michigan artist, decorator and designer whose prime focus is on transforming, clients’ desires into beautiful creations of color and depth. Rebecca has also created many murals, painted furniture and has done work in the interior design industry as well. Working closely with her clients. Rebecca creates unique pieces of original art that reflect her clients’ lifestyle. 

 Summer in Michigan always surrounds us with the beauty of; crystal waters songbirds and native forests. The AuSable Canoe Marathon is an integral part of what makes summer in Michigan so special.

Scott Rice

Location: AuSable Gifts – Grayling

Not a newcomer to the Paddles for the Marathon, Scott’s entry this year is stunning rendition of the rare Kirtland Warbler- a bird only native to northern Michigan.

Scott earned his BFA in Illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design and his MFA in Painting and Drawing from Central Michigan University.  Since 1996, he has been a faculty member for Kirtland Community College’s Art Department and is responsible for all the beginning and advance courses in drawing, painting, watercolors, illustration, portfolio and art history.

Since arriving to Kirtland, Scott has been an active member in the art community as an artist, juror and advisor.  During his time at Kirtland, he received numerous honors and awards as an artist and instructor throughout the nation; such as, Who’s Who in American Instructors, Gold Medal in Drawing: Bosque Conservatory’s Annual Realism Exhibition, Jesse Besser Museum’s Northeast Annual Art Exhibitions, Top 50 Portrait Artists: The Artist’s Magazine and Distinguished Alumni Award: Kendall College of Art and Design.

Also, during his time at Kirtland, he has helped create AAS in Foundations in Fine Art degree and 1 certificate in Graphic Design for art students: at the same time, assisted 50+ students receive a combine total of $1,000,000+ in scholarships to attend Kendall College of Art and Design and the College of Creative Arts.

If you are interested in finding the artist within you, pushing your art to the next level or learning more about Kirtland’s art programs and courses, feel free to contact Scott at (989)275-5000 ext. 300.

Mike Williams

Location: Huron Shors Artisan Hall– Grayling

The Blue Flag Iris is an indication that late nights and big bugs are in order for the dry fly angler.  This is the time of year that anglers dream of the other 11 months of the year.  Along the banks of the AuSable, the Iris is plentiful and a beautiful addition to the warm evenings of June.  Many times, as the sun is setting, I have witnessed large trout feeding in the shadows of these beautiful wildflowers.  In this case, there is one specific corner and one particular trout in which the water is dark, and the Iris is plentiful.  I hooked that trout one evening, but lost it shortly thereafter.  Regardless, the image is burned in my brain and the memories still haunt me.  I believe that most anglers of the AuSable have a very similar memory, perhaps even one that haunts them as well.  


Carole Meier

Location: AuSable Artisan Village – Grayling

As an artist and volunteer in the AUSABLE ARTISAN VILLAGE in Grayling, Michigan, I wanted join in the fun of creating a paddle for the AuSable River Canoe Marathon scholarship fundraiser. 

I am a clay artist with a pottery studio just west of Grayling…my work is a mix of functional and nonfunctional art pieces utilizing a high fire stoneware clay body and studio developed glazes.  The “turtles” paddle I designed is an art piece to remind us of the amazing water and wildlife we are so lucky to be able to enjoy on our planet.

Gaye Peters

Location: Northland Area CU – Oscoda

According to North American Native tradition, the Blue Heron brings messages of self-determination and self-reliance. Others have said they bring great prosperity and good luck.

In years past when spending time kayaking with my dog on the AuSable, I would often see a blue heron.   It would fly off as I passed it and then I would meet up with it later further down the river where it would repeat this.  I always enjoyed this and it gave me comfort, as if he were watching out for me on my journey on his river.

This is a mixed media piece which I enjoyed creating. As always, I am grateful for Art for through it I have discovered an appreciation of our world and its infinite beauty.


Joe Ellison

Location: AuSable Artisan Village – Grayling 


The running start.  Shoes pounding the street.  The first canoe into the water. In all that commotion, one racer is the first to drive a paddle down into the water column with a splash, pulling it toward the back of the canoe.  There are little whirlpools, eddies, turbulence and a little laminar flow.  The first paddle stroke of the race.  The first of many.  This design captures that moment.  The AuSable River Canoe Marathon in 2023 will offer a paddler the opportunity for the 75th initial paddle stroke  Best to all the racers!

Kathie Troshynski

Location: Wolverine State CU- Oscoda

My paddle art was inspired by a lovely view from a tiny inlet on the Au Sable. There at the beach is my kayak just waiting in the early morning mist for my arrival. The beautiful water and stillness beckon me to reach out to nature with a little ‘paddle’ down the river. Does a day start better than that?

You can see more of my art at the Lawrence Street gallery in Ferndale, MI and on our website as a member artist at lawrencestreetgallery.com.
For more information about studio art you may reach me at kathietro@yahoo.com.


Paige Galbraith

Location: MI Brew – Grayling

Normally I work with graphite on paper, but creating artwork on a different media with the wooden paddles is a fun and rewarding challenge for me. Even the wildlife subject matter that I choose is a change of pace. I also enjoy creating something that contributes to such an important community and historical event!

Justice Otterbacher

Location: MI Brew – Grayling

In my artwork, I like to get inspiration from elements and influences in my life. For this paddle, I was inspired by foxes that I’ve seen running through my backyard in the summer for this paddle! This paddle was more challenging for me as I had never used acrylic paint like this before. I really enjoyed taking the challenge of using acrylic paint on wood and creating an image anyone can enjoy!

Dan Feldhauser

Location: Borcher’s – Grayling 

The image I chose to portray on my paddle is a graphite drawing done from a photo taken of my Father (Don Feldhauser) to preserve and honor his memory and his love of life experiences on the AuSable River.

My father was a former 3 time Marathon Champion (along with Bernie Fowler, 53-54-55) as well as a life long river guide on the AuSable river.  

It was an honor and privilege to dedicate this in his memory.


Stacy McKellip

Location: Northbound Outfitters – Grayling

“75 Years of Legends”

Through the darkness of a summer night, a score of paddlers race on the AuSable in the annual marathon.  Pushing through the pack, a lone leader emerges that has nearly pushed their body beyond its natural limit in an effort to lead and to win.  As the hours drag on the interminable inky blackness of the river and the body faces pure exhaustion; the real challenge begins.  To let up the pace… to take a break for weary muscles… would be so sweet.   However the ears perceive the distant sounds of rowing and looking towards the skies sees 74 years of past winners shine down on this canoe.  It is these observations that make the mind decide to push when the body would rather give in.  In a vivid daydream of pure determination, the mind has decided to paint the river in brilliant technicolor to excite the body into action, and pump the adrenaline needed to churn the water gold for the victory that is just within reach….As long as they keep winning their own internal battle; the one that truly matters against themselves, they can join the ranks of past legends and shine as the 75th winner.

This paddle is an experimental piece for Stacy McKellip of watercolors and acrylic paint on wood.  Stacy wanted to push the limits of her imagination to create a dreamy landscape with unconventional art mediums for the artist to explore.  More of Stacy McKellip’s art can be viewed on her website www.stacymckellipstudios.com and on Facebook – Stacy McKellip Studios

Want to check out the auction?