By Paul T. Choate
May 15, 2012. JEFFERSON — On Saturday, May 19, the 31st Annual 4-H New River Canoe Race will kick off from Zaloo’s Canoes, Kayaks and Tubes in Jefferson. The first boat launch is at 9 a.m. and there will be prizes awarded in numerous different categories based on age, experience level and gender. New River State Park marks the finish line of the race.
Started in 1981, the annual event has become a tradition for High Country residents and others alike. People from all over annually attend.
“There have been many people involved through the years,” said Nancy Shannon, race committee member. “My children were young when we had one of the first races. We were trying to beat a thunderstorm and we won. Now I have grandchildren participating.”
All proceeds from the event go to the 4-H Scholarship Fund. The scholarship money enables low-income families to enroll their children in many of the camps offered in the area throughout the summer. The fundraising goal for the scholarships is $10,000.
“[The race has] grown in importance through the years,” said Shannon. “You have families who are more in need of financial assistance with child care in the summer months. Without the race I don’t know where the money would come from.”
Special to this year’s installment are where the trophies have come from. Shannon’s husband, James, of Big Horse Woods woodworking, cut down a large poplar tree to provide the wood for the trophies. The designs, 10-inch canoes and paddles, were then cut out by Ashe County High School students under the supervision of Walter Pugh. The designs were then sanded and had labels carved into them by Walnut Hill Crafts of Grassy Creek, N.C.
There will be first and second place trophies awarded in Novice, Expert and Champion classes. Each class in broken into sub-categories of single participant (C1), two participants (C2), male-female, male-male, female-female and adult-youth, as well as various classes for those who choose to kayak rather than canoe. There will also be free T-shirts given away, as well as a raffle drawing. Raffle tickets are $5 or three for $10 and several area businesses, including Boone’s Mast General Store and Anna Bananas, will have prizes available.
New this year will be a “shotgun start” Business Class race at 11 a.m. Area businesses are encouraged to select two representatives of their business to compete in the race. Registration for the Business Class race is $75 and includes the entry fee and canoe rental. The winning businesses will receive a plaque that they can keep in their business establishment for one year.
Registration for the race is $10 (not including canoe rental). Zaloo’s Canoes, Kayaks and Tubes will be offering canoe rental at a discounted rate for all race participants.
For more information, call 336-846-5850 or visit the 4-H New River Canoe Race’s Facebook page.