For outdoor and nature enthusiasts, the highlight of the summer is just around the corner. Smith River Fest will be held on Saturday, August 13 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 3,000 guests from 10 different states and 49 Virginia communities participated in the event, and festival organizers expect those numbers to grow. Highlighted events for the 9th annual event include the 4.8-mile long Smith River Race, Helgramite Hustle 5K Mud Run, Blue Ridge Duck Race and a Gear Swap.
Activity areas will be spread throughout the festival allowing guests to try out various forms of recreation, including:
The Smith River Experience, presented by Martinsville Parks & Recreation, offers beginner paddlers short 30-minute canoe trips. (Free)
The Casting Pool, presented by River Community Bank, will allow guests to learn casting techniques for trout fishing. Volunteers from Smith River Trout Unlimited and Casting for Recovery will facilitate lessons. (Free)
The Kids Cycle Station, presented by Dogs N Que, will allow youth ages 10 and under to challenge themselves to a biking obstacle course while learning about bike safety. The rides will be facilitated by volunteers from the Henry County Bike Club and Martinsville Police Department. (Free)
The LOVEwork, presented by Virginia is for Outdoors Lovers, offers a fun photo op with the iconic letters. (Free)
The Kids Zone, presented by Casting Logos, will include multiple bounce houses and up-close encounters from the animals of Infinity Acres Petting Ranch. (Free)
The Climbing Wall, presented by the US Army Recruiting Center, is always a popular attraction and this year kids will also get to meet G.I. Johnny as he makes several character appearances throughout the day. (Free)
The Hammock Villages, presented by DICK’s Sporting Goods, Inc., will provide a fun way to relax during the festival. Two areas will be offered for hammocks this year, one near the stage area and one by the river. (Free)
New for Smith River Fest this year will be river tubing presented by Smith River Outfitters. Tube rentals will be $4 each. There will also be a variety of free children’s games in the Duck Village, presented by the Boys and Girls Club of the Blue Ridge.
For paddlers’ convenience there will be free river shuttles all day long offered by Henry County Parks and Recreation and Martinsville Senior Services. Two shuttle busses will stop at Marrowbone Creek and Mitchell Bridge river accesses and the other two shuttle busses will stop at the South Martinsville and Frith Road river accesses. A detailed map of shuttle routes can be seen at SmithRiverFest.com. Everyone who enjoys the river during Smith River Fest is encouraged to paddle responsibly and wear a life jacket.
Live entertainment on the Martinsville Speedway Victory Lane Stage will include BJ the DJ, chainsaw carving demos by Woodchuck Woodcarvers, the Harvest Foundation’s Water Balloon Fundraiser and Music by L Shape Lot. Adjacent to the stage area, the YMCA will host a Beer Garden that will open at 11 am.
More than 70 vendors selling outdoor gear, crafts, gifts and food will be present as well as informational displays. Featured vendors include Angler’s Choice, Mayodan Outdoor Sports, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Life Outside Magazine, Rae’s Wear, Thirty-one, Origami Owl, Paparazzi, Bath Fitter, Hamlet Vineyards, Preston Ridge Winery and Polar Bear Italian Ice.
The event, founded in 2008, is designed to promote recreational opportunities along the Smith River and in the surrounding region. 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.
8:30 - 9:30 am River Race Registration (At Festival Entrance) 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Music with BJ the DJ
9:00 am - 5:00 pm Festival & Vendor Booths Open Activity Areas Open Boat Showcase Open Gear Swap Open Free River Shuttles Run
9:30 am Last River Race Shuttle Departs Chainsaw Carving Demo
9:45 am River Race Safety Meeting at Starting Line
10:00 am River Race Begins
10:00 am - 1:30 pm Helgramite Hustle Mud Run Registration (at Festival Entrance)
11:00 am Tube Rentals Begin
11:00 am - 5:00 pm Beer Garden Open
12:00 pm Harvest Foundation’s Water Balloon Fundraiser for United Way
12:30 – 4:00 pm Music by L Shape Lot
1:00 pm Blue Ridge Duck Race
1:30 pm Kids Mini Mud Run 2:00 pm Helgramite Hustle Mud Run
2:00 - 4:30 pm The Smith River Experience - Canoe Rides