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Wednesday July 22, 2015

For outdoor and nature enthusiasts, the highlight of the summer is just around the corner. Smith River Fest will be held on Saturday, August 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Smith River Sports Complex, located at 1000 Irisburg Road in Axton, Virginia. Both admission and parking are free for this event.


In past years, more than 2,400 guests from 14 different states participated in the event and festival organizers expect those numbers to grow. Highlights for the 8th annual event include the 4.8-mile long Smith River Race, the Helgramite Hustle 5K Mud Run and the Blue Ridge Duck Race.


Guests at the event will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on outdoor experiences that include a scavenger hunt, stand-up paddleboard (SUP) demonstrations, casting demonstrations, a guided canoe/kayak ride, bicycle rides, dog handling demonstrations and the Smith River Experience which allows first-time paddlers the opportunity to take a short canoe ride.


Several new activities have been planned including the Kids Cycle Station which promotes bicycle safety, the Paw Path Pet-Friendly play area, a scavenger hunt, dog handling demonstrations and a gear swap where participants can buy and sell gently used recreational equipment.


Vendors selling outdoor gear, crafts and gifts will be present as well as informational displays. Both the US National Whitewater Center and the American Canoe Association will be present at the event to talk about the growing popularity of paddle sports and green initiatives to protect waterways. Children can enjoy bounce houses, a climbing wall and a petting ranch which are all offered at no charge. The Nature Exploration Zone will feature exhibitors that offer unique opportunities to connect with nature and the outdoors. Knot tying, flint knapping, plant identification and storytelling are just some of the free activities that will be offered in this area.


Performances during the event include chainsaw carving demonstrations by Woodchuck Woodcarvers and a concert by Southern Shine Band. A dozen different food vendors will be on hand along with wineries and a beer garden. Shaded seating for dining and a hammock village for relaxing will also be offered at the festival.


For those paddling the river during the event, free river shuttles will be provided. Rental boats will be available and a variety of guided trips will be offered. Everyone who enjoys the river during Smith River Fest is encouraged to paddle responsibly and wear a life jacket.


The event, founded in 2008, is designed to promote recreational opportunities along the Smith River and in the surrounding region. According to Jennifer Doss, Director of Tourism for Martinsville-Henry County and festival co-founder, “We are fortunate to have many high-quality recreational amenities in our area, and Smith River Fest is the perfect way to showcase them. We are delighted to see this event grow in popularity each year so that residents and visitors can discover new ways to enjoy the outdoors.”


Smith River Fest is collaborative effort between Henry County Parks & Recreation, Martinsville-Henry County EDC’s Tourism Division, Smith River Sports Complex, Dan River Basin Association, Martinsville-Henry County YMCA, Martinsville Parks & Recreation and the Boys & Girls Club of the Blue Ridge. Vendor applications, race registrations and additional festival information can be found at SmithRiverFest.com or by calling 276.632.8006.


Tags: Axton, Canoeing, Festivals, Fishing, Henry County, Henry County Parks & Recreation, Insider's Tips, Kayaking, Martinsville, Martinsville Parks & Recreation, MHC Economic Development Corporation, Smith River, Smith River Fest, Smith River Outfitters, Smith River Sports Complex, Smith River Trail System, Trails,