Martinsville, Virginia


Smith River Fest Returns on Saturday, August 19th

Smith River Fest, Henry County’s annual outdoor recreation showcase, will be back and more exciting than ever on Saturday, August 19th at the Monogram Foods Smith River Sports Complex festival grounds! For many, the annual outdoors festival is not only a summer tradition, but also a highlight. The Smith River Fest aims to be a celebration of all things outdoors that make Martinsville – Henry County an outdoor recreation hotspot. MHC boasts the beautiful Smith River and gorgeous Philpott Lake as well as the Smith River Blueway and the Philpott Blueway. On any given day, there are ample opportunities to get outdoors, get active, and enjoy nature. Smith River Fest is a day to learn more about many of these amenities while having a fun opportunity to experience them. This year’s Smith River Fest is presented by Sovah Health – Martinsville. Both admission and parking are free for this event.

In past years, thousands of guests from more than 10 different states and 52 Virginia communities have participated in the event, and festival organizers expect those numbers to continue to grow. Highlighted events for the annual event include the Helgramite Hustle 5K Mud Run presented by Martinsville Eyecare Center, the 4.8-mile long River Race, the Paddling Demo Pool presented by the US Army Recruitment Center, live music by local band League of Ordinary Gentlemen.

Activity areas will be spread throughout the festival allowing guests to try out various forms of recreation, including:

  • The Paddling Demo Pool, presented by Farm Bureau Insurance, will offer inexperienced boaters the opportunity to feel what it is like to get on a kayak, while having the security of a shallow pool beneath them, instead of the intimidation of the depth of a river. This will allow many first-timers to get a feel for the basic of paddling and maneuvering through water. (Free)
  • The Casting Pool, presented by the Martinsville Speedway, will allow guests to learn casting techniques for trout fishing. Volunteers from Smith River Trout Unlimited, Casting for Recovery, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will facilitate lessons. (Free)
  • The Kids Cycle Station, presented by the Center for Pediatric Therapies, will allow youth ages 12 and under to challenge themselves to a biking obstacle course while learning about bike safety. Volunteers from the Henry County Bike Club and Martinsville Police Department will facilitate the rides. (Free)
  • The Mobile Bike Barn, presented by the Martinsville YMCA, will allow guests to borrow a bike to ride around the festival. (Free)
  • The Kids Zone, presented by the Boys & Girls Club of the Blue Ridge, will include multiple bounce houses and up-close encounters from the animals of Infinity Acres Petting Ranch. (Free)
  • The Climbing Wall, presented by King Kidz, is always a popular attraction. (Free)
  • The Hammock Village, presented by R&J Tire Service, will provide a fun way to relax during the festival. (Free)
  • River Tubing, presented by Auto Rehab, offers you the ability to check out a tube and life jacket and enjoy an approximately 30-minute ride on the cool and beautiful Smith River! (Free)
  • Fly Tying Demos, presented by Smith River Trout Unlimited, will showcase the fishermen practicing their craft throughout the day. (Free)
  • Yoga by the River, presented by Yoga Pop Danville, will start promptly at 10:00 AM. Participants are asked to bring their own yoga mat. (Free)
  • The Water Gun Battle Station, presented by Henry County Parks & Recreation, will offer kids, and kids at heart, the opportunity to have a ball and cool off!
  • The Boat Race is open to kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards (SUPs). Enter as a team or individual; racing or recreation!
  • The Helgramite Hustle Mud Run, presented by Martinsville Eyecare Center, is a muddy 5K featuring a series of mud pits and obstacles to climb over, crawl through, and slide under.

For paddlers’ convenience there will be free river shuttles all day long offered by Henry County Parks and Recreation. Two shuttle buses will stop at the 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 Everyone who enjoys the river during Smith River Fest is encouraged to paddle responsibly and must wear a life jacket.

There will also be a variety of entertainment options throughout the day, including:

  • Live Music, presented by the stage sponsor, Press Glass, will feature DJ WHAT! in the morning, and Live Music by the League of Ordinary Gentleman. (Free)
  • A Magic Show presented by Joseph Young. (Free)
  • The Beer Garden, presented by Martinsville YMCA, will feature a selection of beers from Mountain Valley Brewing!

Plus, there will be a variety of vendors and food trucks set up to round out your day!

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, and the Martinsville-Henry County YMCA. Vendor applications, race registrations and additional festival information can be found at or by calling 276.634.4640.