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Smith River Fest Returns Saturday, August 20


AXTON, VA – Smith River Fest, Henry County’s annual outdoor recreation showcase, will be back on Saturday, August 20 at the Smith River Sports Complex.


The event, which aims to be a celebration of all things outdoors that make Martinsville – Henry County an outdoor recreation hotspot, will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Smith River Fest is a day to learn more about many local amenities while having a fun opportunity to experience them.


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 continue to grow.


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

  • The Paddling Demo Pool will offer inexperienced boaters the opportunity to feel what it is like to get on a kayak for free, 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 will allow guests to learn casting techniques for trout fishing for free. 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 will allow youth ages 12 and under to challenge themselves to a biking obstacle course while learning about bike safety free of charge. Volunteers from the Henry County Bike Club and Martinsville Police Department will facilitate the rides.

  • The Mobile Bike Barn will allow guests to borrow a bike to ride free of charge around the festival.

  • The Kids Zone will include multiple bounce houses and up-close encounters from the animals of Infinity Acres Petting Ranch for free.

  • The Climbing Wall is always a free, popular attraction.

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

  • River Tubing offers you the ability to check out a tube and life jacket and enjoy an approximately 30-minute ride on the Smith River for free.

  • Fly Tying Demos will showcase the fishermen practicing their craft throughout the day free of charge.

  • Yoga by the River will start promptly at 10 a.m. Participants are asked to bring their own yoga mat. This activity is free.

  • The Water Gun Battle Station will offer kids, and kids at heart, the opportunity to have a ball and cool off!

  • The Boat Race is open to kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards. Enter as a team or individual; racing or recreation!

  • The Helgramite Hustle Mud Run is a muddy 5K featuring a series of mud pits and obstacles to climb over, crawl through, and slide under.


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 here.


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


There will also be a variety of entertainment options throughout the day at the amphitheatre, including:

  • Free live music will feature DJ WHAT! in the morning, and live music by Andy & Jake in the afternoon.

  • A free magic show presented by Joseph Young.

  • The Beer Garden will feature a selection of beers from Lawrence Distributing.

  • The Blue Ridge Duck Race will feature approximately 15,000 ducks racing their way down the Smith River!


Plus, there will be a variety of vendors and food trucks set up to round out your day!


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

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