August 7, 2014
Experience the Outdoors at Smith River Fest

Martinsville, VA (August 5, 2014) –Have you ever wanted to paddle a canoe? Do you want to meet other people that enjoy hiking? Do you know what a SUP or a PFD is? The public can discover the answers to these and other questions at Smith River Fest on Saturday, August 9th. This free festival will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Smith River Sports Complex (SRSC), located at 1000 Irisburg Road in Axton, Virginia.

 According to Jennifer Doss, Director of Tourism for Martinsville-Henry County and Co-Founder of the event, “Smith River Fest is a fun day for outdoor enthusiasts, but it is also a wonderful opportunity for newcomers to explore the many recreational opportunities that are available in our area.”

There will be many activities offered throughout the day to give participants a taste of various outdoor activities. Beginning at 9:15 a.m., staff from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine will demonstrate stand up paddleboarding (SUP) at the SRSC river access. Participants can watch a brief demo on how to balance and paddle the board and then take turns trying it themselves. Those wishing to participate in the free demo should wear clothing that can get wet and sturdy water shoes or sneakers. Life jackets, also called personal flotation devices (PFDs), will be provided for use during the demo.

 Members of Smith River Trout Unlimited will showcase the intricate art of tying flies for fly fishing and how to cast a fly rod. At the Smith River Fest Casting Pool, provided by Henry County Parks & Recreation and Martinsville-Henry County Tourism, participants can learn the proper technique to cast a fly rod and practice aiming for floating targets in the pool. This free activity will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and all equipment will be provided.

At 11:30 a.m., Three River Outfitters will take a group of paddlers on a guided 2.2 mile ride to Marrowbone Creek River Access. All skill levels are welcome and all equipment will be provided. The cost for this activity is $20 for kayaks and $30 for canoes.

From 2-5 p.m., the Dan River Basin Association, Smith River Outfitters and Martinsville Parks & Recreation will host the “Smith River Experience,” where those new to the sport of paddling can take a free 10-minute canoe ride in calm water to see what paddling is like. PFD’s will be provided and participants should wear clothing and shoes that can get wet.

Activate Martinsville-Henry County’s Bike Barn Mobile Unit will be at the event throughout the day allowing participants to enjoy a free bicycle ride. Options will include seven speed comfort bikes, a tandem bike and kid's bikes of various sizes, with and without training wheels. Helmets will also be provided.

Discovering a new hobby like paddling, biking or fishing is even more fun when you have friends to participate with. At the event, several special interest groups will be on hand to showcase their various organizations, including Blue Ridge Ski & Outing Club, MHC Inspire (Triathlon Training Club), Smith River Trout Unlimited, Master Naturalists, Henry County Bike Club, Dan River Basin Association, B.A.S.S. and others.

 Bren Perkins, Public Relations Chair for the Blue Ridge Ski & Outing Club (BRS&O), invites the public to come learn more about the club.  “Our club is open to all adults and families. We promote active lifestyles through a multitude of both indoor and outdoor activities and encourage everyone to come on out and explore Martinsville and surrounding counties with us in a way like never before.” The club will also host a group paddle trip, departing from the festival grounds at 4 p.m. The public is invited and can sign up to attend the free trip by visiting the BRS&O Club booth at Smith River Fest.

For those wishing to enjoy a more leisurely hobby, Blue Ridge Outdoors will also sponsor the ENO Hammock Village, open throughout the day near the Smith River Fest stage. At this activity area, participants can test out the popular ENO brand hammocks and kick back for a while.

Last year, more than 2,400 guests from 14 different states participated in the event and festival organizers expect those numbers to grow. Main events for the upcoming 7th annual event include a 4.8-mile long river race, the Helgramite Hustle 5K Mud Run and the Martinsville Speedway Blue Ridge Duck Race 5000.

Smith River Fest is collaborative effort between Henry County Parks & Recreation, Martinsville-Henry County Tourism, Smith River Sports Complex, Dan River Basin Association, Activate MHC, Martinsville Parks & Recreation and Boys & Girls Club of the Blue Ridge. Vendor applications, race registrations and additional festival information can be found at or by calling 276.403.5695.