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Smith River Fest is this Saturday: Here's what you can expect

AXTON – Smith River Fest, presented by Smith River Provision Company, will be held on Saturday from 9 AM to 4 PM.

The event, founded in 2008, is designed to promote recreational opportunities along the Smith River and in the surrounding region.

The fest will be held at the Smith River Sports Complex located at 1000 Irisburg Road in Axton.

Both admission and parking are free for this event.

In past years, thousands of guests from more than 10 different states and 52 Virginia communities have participated in the event, and festival organizers expect those numbers to grow.

Highlighted events for the 12th annual event include the Helgramite Hustle 5K Mud Run presented by Martinsville Eyecare Center, the 4.8-mile long River Race, the Paddling Demo Pool presented by Sovah Health, a Gear Swap and live music by Crawford & Power.

Activity areas will be spread throughout the festival allowing guests to try out various forms of recreation, including:

  • The new Paddling Demo Pool, presented by Sovah Health, will offer inexperienced boaters the opportunity to feel what it is like to get on a kayak, while having the security of a shallow pool beneath them, instead of the intimidation of the depth of a river. This will allow many first-timers to get a feel for the basic of paddling and maneuvering through water. 

  • The Casting Pool, presented by Angler’s Choice, will allow guests to learn casting techniques for trout fishing. Volunteers from Smith River Trout Unlimited, Casting for Recovery, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will facilitate lessons.

  • The Kids Cycle Station, presented by the Center for Pediatric Therapies, will allow youth ages 12 and under to challenge themselves to a biking obstacle course while learning about bike safety. Volunteers from the Henry County Bike Club and Martinsville Police Department will facilitate the rides.

  • The Mobile Bike Barn, presented by the Martinsville YMCA, will allow guests to borrow a bike to ride around the festival.

  • The Kids Zone, presented by John Cassell for Henry County Sheriff, will include multiple bounce houses and up-close encounters from the animals of Infinity Acres Petting Ranch.

  • The Climbing Wall, presented by King Kidz, is always a popular attraction.

  • Live Music, presented by Martinsville YMCA & VisitMartinsville, will feature DJ WHAT! in the morning, and Live Music by Crawford & Power in the afternoon.

  • This year’s Beer Garden, presented by Martinsville YMCA will feature MHC’s own Mountain Valley Brewing. (Not free)

  • The Hammock Village will provide a fun way to relax during the festival.

  • A Gaming Trailer, presented by the Martinsville US Army Recruitment Center, will allow guests to practice shooting hoops.

For paddlers’ convenience there will be free river shuttles all day long offered by Henry County Parks and Recreation.

Two shuttle buses will stop at the Marrowbone Creek and Mitchell Bridge river accesses and the other two shuttle busses will stop at the South Martinsville and Frith Road river accesses.

A detailed map of shuttle routes can be seen at

Everyone who enjoys the river during the fest is encouraged to paddle responsibly and must wear a life jacket.

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