* PARTY ON: One of the biggest whitewater rewards on the East Coast is running the roughly 10-mile stretch of the Upper Youghiogheny River from the Sang Run put-in to the takeout in Friendsville, Md., located about three hours from Washington. The Upper Yough (pronounced "Yock") has steep, challenging sections amid forested hills and includes prized rapids such as Triple Drop, National Falls, Meat Cleaver and Powerful Popper. For years, it has been a huge draw for those fired up by Class IV and Class V whitewater. So it makes sense that those who care deeply about the river's future will host the Upper Yough Festival next weekend.

The festival, whose highlight is the 24th annual Upper Yough Race on Saturday at 4 p.m., also has much stuff for nonexpert paddlers, including a Kids Family Fun Race, to be held on a calmer section of the river on Friday at 4 p.m., and an Old Fashioned Barn Dance, with live bluegrass and folk music, just outside town on Friday at 7 p.m. For details and directions, visit www.americanwhitewater.org or e-mail jess@iceweb.net. The festival's proceeds are earmarked for American Whitewater, the Friendsville Volunteer Fire Department and a payout for the top racers.

* FOOD FEST: The Potomac Conservancy will host its fifth annual picnic and potluck on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Carderock Pavilion off the Clara Barton Parkway on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. The event is free but be sure to bring your favorite dish. The Potomac River Ramblers will play country and bluegrass. For more information, visit www.potomac.org or contact Jaimye Bartak at 301-608-1188, Ext. 201.

* SKILL SET: REI will host Bicycle Maintenance 101 at its Baileys Crossroads store on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The event is free. Visit www.rei.com for more information.

-- John Mullen

mullenj@washpost.com