A commercial raft trip on the upper G probably costs between $100 and 150. Gauleyfest weekend is pretty much a parade of club boaters in full face helmets with neoprene gloves on. Take the playboat.
Safety is subjective. Hordes of paddlers are there, and paddlers love carnage. On a raft trip, you should be fine. In your kayak, stay away from creeky lines unless you know for sure they are good. Stay in the main flow. I think of the Gauley as a terrain park for kayaks. You can take a creek slot, wave wheel, splat, surf, rock spin, or run the meat (and most combinations thereof) at lots of rapids.