Martinsville, Virginia


Thank You for Attending Smith River Fest

Did you attend Smith River Fest this past weekend? If yes, then we have something important to tell you... YOU ROCK!

It was a chilly and rainy day, and you could have been home in your pajamas watching Netflix, but you weren't. You came out to celebrate with us and here's why that's so awesome...

Smith River Fest

Smith River Fest - SUP

Smith River Fest - Duck Race

Smith River Fest - Mud Pit

Each year our planning committee is faced with the same concerns and anxieties. "What if it storms?" "What if no one comes?" "What if all our efforts are wasted?" This year we were faced with a particularly ominous forecast, and when an event grows as large as Smith River Fest, rain dates are not a viable option. We had to roll with it. Our committee, staff members and countless volunteers threw on our rain boots and rain coats to make the best of the day. Not knowing what exactly to expect with the steady sprinkles, we were absolutely delighted that 600 people showed up to play in the rain and mud with us! 

As the Marketing and Public Relations Chair for Smith River Fest, my name and face shows up in the media quite a bit as a festival spokesperson, but believe me, it takes a village to put on this event! Seven organizations come together each year and spend 10 months planning to put this show on.

Each year we begin two weeks after the previous festival with a recap meeting to discuss what went well, what didn't and to evaluate feedback from participants. During the fall and winter, our core committee members work on individual projects, researching ideas to make the festival and all its related events better. Ideas fly back and forth with lots of energy. After the New Year rolls in, it is time to get serious and decide which ideas are feasible to keep and which ones go back in the "one day..." category. 

With our direction set, each committee member has an important role to play, and all seven organizations make significant financial and/or in-kind contributions to the event. We work together with a great synergy; having the common goal of a successful event in mind.

In the months leading up to the festival, events are planned, trophies are made, t-shirts are designed, vendor spaces are sold, supplies are purchased, guest performers are secured, promotional efforts ramp up and plans are established to ensure that every detail is taken care of for your safety and enjoyment. I know those porta johns don't seem important...that is until you REALLY need one! 

The final weeks entail physical labor on infrastructure to build festival amenities, line parking lots, delineate booth spaces and construct race courses. We rally our staff members and fleets of volunteers to prepare for the big day. 

In the days leading up to Smith River Fest, the committee members and staff work long hours to get details taken care of, report to work before dawn for media interviews, and check and re-check our lists with the diligence of Santa Claus. "Are we forgetting anything?"

We all take a deep breath as we dive into festival day putting a smile on our faces and bracing for what's about to come. The vendors arrive and it is often like putting together a jigsaw puzzle; someone might want to move away from a noisy generator, a vendor's rig might be larger than the booth space they bought, or another booth space might have
turned into a small pond with the rainfall. We try our best to accommodate everyone's needs and get everyone into their places. 

Once the booths are set up, we wait. Hoping and praying that all our marketing efforts will bring people through the gate, despite the dreary weather. You see, we don't put on this event each year for us. We do it for YOU! Our committee members love outdoor recreation and we want the residents of and visitors to our area to also be able to experience and enjoy the fun of biking, paddling, climbing, hiking and running. 

Despite the gloomy skies and rain, the people came out and it warmed our hearts. We met new faces like Dylan and Patrick of Martinsville who came out with their grandparents to try Stand Up Paddleboarding for the first time. And we saw old friends, like Sam who drives from Pennsylvania each year and has not missed a Smith River Fest yet. We met Daisy and Caleb from Waynesboro who embraced the weather by doing belly flops in the mud pit for us (watch the video), and we delighted at the many Smith River Fest fans that were willing to quack like ducks to win a prize. 

Each and every person we encountered Saturday was smiling, full of enthusiasm and happy to be out in the rain. On behalf of the entire Smith River Fest planning committee, WE THANK YOU! Thank you for coming out to our party and giving us a reason to make 2015 even better!

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