by Erika Giovanetti
May 28, 2013. The New River Canoe Race, held this Saturday, June 1, has been an annual tradition since 1981.
The race begins at 9 a.m. at Zaloo’s Canoes on N.C. 16 and ends five miles down the river at New River State Park’s Wagoner Road Access in Jefferson.
The race doesn’t have a shotgun start, so participants begin the race any time between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and each racer is individually timed as they progress down the New River. The awards ceremony is at 3 p.m.’
“The money is distributed between all of the state parks in the High Country area, Mount Jefferson Natural Area and Grandfather Mountain, for example. Some of it goes for programming so that rangers can offer programing for schools, individuals and groups,” said Nancy Shannon of the Friends. “We have asked all of the state parks to give us a wish list for this year.”
Mount Jefferson, for example, is a state park system that has benefited greatly from the community coming together with Friends of High Country State Parks. The park recently threatened to close, but locals came together and voiced their concerns in Raleigh to save the park.
“This is the first year the Friends group is taking it over. For 31 years it has been hosted by the Ashe County Cooperative Extension (4H division), which helped birth the race with dedicated volunteers, for scholarships,” Shannon said.
“Zaloo’s Canoes has been on-board as a very important sponsor since 1981. They’ve never missed a year. Every year, they’ve offered discounted boats for race participants, free shuttle, and the land for their starting line,” said Shannon.
Festivities are held at the state park near the finish line of the race and include live music, concession stands, free tubing, a raffle and outdoor classroom learning with park rangers. Vitality health food truck will be there with fruit smoothies and vegetarian food. Door prizes are available for those who register for the race.
“With registration, you get a free t-shirt and a chance to win some cool door prizes. ReGear, Anna Banana’s and Wahoo’s adventures donated gift certificates, and Carolina Country Wine, from West Jefferson, donated 4 wine glasses,” Shannon said.
Americana and folk band, Redleg Husky, will perform during the event. Band member David Funderburk is an ASU graduate student and a member of the Friends of High Country State Parks.
Raffle tickets may be bought at local retailers, such as EarthFare and Green Mother Goods in Boone. For a full list of participating businesses, click here. Raffle tickets are $5 per ticket or $15 for four.
First prize is a Perception Tribe 9.5 kayak complete with vest, paddle and accessory seat donated from Footsloggers of Boone. Other prizes include artwork by Susan Van Wyk, photography by Pat Considine, a quilt donated by Quilt Square Girls and a tubing trip for six donated by River Girl Fishing Company.
Enthusiasts of all levels of experience are welcome, and winners receive a trophy, which were a big community effort. Locals in the High Country designed and crafter the woodwork for the trophy.
“We figure that people will be breaking the hour mark. We have some people that have been participating since 1981 that are really hardcore. There will be a few who wouldn’t surprise us if they broke the 30-minute mark,” said Shannon.
Shannon wants participants to know that you will be disqualified if you don’t have your life jacket on. Also, if you encounter another racer in distress, you are expected to help anyone in need. You will be able to restart the race without penalty.