By Jessica Isaacs
This family-friendly event will take you five miles down the New River and is open to participants of all ages and skill levels. Sponsored by the Friends of High Country State Parks, the race has become a longstanding outdoor tradition for those who love to enjoy the mountains and rivers of North Carolina.
Friends of HCSP volunteer Beth Sorrell said the ultimate goal of the race event is bring more people out to enjoy the river and the state park, all while continuing the tradition of family fun.
“It is the one and only fundraiser for the Friends of High Country state Parks group, which is a nonprofit that provides needed funds for education programs and other needs of the park,” Sorrell said.
Sorrell said this event is an affordable way for local families and guests of the area to get outside and enjoy all that the state park has to offer.
“It’s an easy paddle trip, so you can be as competitive as you want, or not at all,” Sorrell said. “It’s a great fun, healthy event and it’s cheaper than most others.”
All proceeds from the race events will directly support the organization’s mission, which is explained on its website as: “to enhance and perpetuate the High Country State Parks and State Natural Areas for the enjoyment and benefit of all the state’s people.”
“The Friends of the High Country State Parks is dedicated to the expansion and preservation of state parks in the N.C. High Country and to the protection of park funding that has permitted these parks to become valuable assets to the local economy and community,” the site reads.
Sorrell said there are many reasons for the public to love and appreciate the New River State Park, and she hopes that many people will participate in Saturday’s events so they can learn more about it and enjoy it.
“Love the park? Who wouldn’t?” Sorrell said. “The park has great trails, beautiful river access, tubing and many interesting educational programs and displays.”
Ready to get going?
Go to the Friends of HCSP website to register online. Registration is $10 per person, $5 for children or $25 for a family float (up to six people) for a single race. Each additional race is $5. Registration includes a free T-shirt, and you’ll automatically be entered to win a door prize.
You can bring your own canoe or kayak or rent one at a discounted rated. Enter the water anytime between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (although boats with children should get started no later than 1 p.m.) You’ll start at Zaloo’s Canoes in Jefferson and travel on a calm route with no white water to the Wagoner Road Access of the New River State Park.
You can register as a “novice,” as an “expert” or, for some added friendly competition, in the “championship” category. Enter the “special” category if anyone traveling with you requires special needs. Families can float together in one boat with up to six people, and youth categories are available for young boaters.
If you’re not interested in boating but want to join in the festivities, check out the music, food, tubing, swimming, Tai Chi and hiking that will be offered at the new River State Park leading up to the 3 p.m. awards ceremony.
Check out the event on Facebook for updates and more information.
Visit Friends of HCSP online to learn more about the group or to register for the race.