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Smith River Fest set for August 21

Smith River Fest set for August 21

It’s almost time to grab the paddles and fishing poles for a day of family fun down by the water at the 13th annual Smith River Fest.

Following a one-year hiatus, this year’s event will be back better than ever on Aug. 21 with festivities lasting from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the Smith River Sports Complex. 

Along with classics such as the Helgramite Hustle Mud Run and the Boat Race, the festival will also feature the Joseph Young Magic Show, free river tubing, and demonstrations for first-time kayakers and fly fishers. 

“The Smith River Fest was originally designed as a way to highlight all of the outdoor recreational activities that we created with the trail system and access points for the Smith River Blueway,” said Roger Adams, Director of Parks and Recreation. “It has evolved a lot since then and I think this year is set up to be one of the best we’ve ever had. There is a little something for everybody and this festival is a phenomenal way to showcase our incredible natural amenities.”

Admission to the event and parking are free. Event sponsors are Dr. J. Peyton Moore Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry, Sovah Health, the Martinsville Speedway, the Martinsville Eyecare Center, and the Blue Ridge Bank.

A bulk of the activities are centered on the Smith River itself. Festival-goers can bring their own yoga mat for “Yoga by the River” with Audra Elliot of Yoga Pop Danville or purchase a rubber duck and compete in the Blue Ridge Duck Race presented by the Boys & Girls Club of the Blue Ridge.

Henry County Parks and Recreation will provide free shuttle rides throughout the day for those who take part in river tubing, canoeing, and kayaking. The shuttles will run upstream in the morning from the sports complex to Blueway access points on Frith Road or near South Martinsville. The shuttle will run downstream in the afternoon to access points at Marrowbone Creek or Mitchell Bridge.

In addition to the free water activities, Henry County Parks and Recreation and the Dan River Basin Association will hold the annual Boat Race. The race is $20 for a single entrant or $30 per tandem entry. There will be multiple races scheduled throughout the day.

While the Smith River is the main attraction for the festival, it’s far from the only way to make a splash.

The festival will also feature paddling and casting demonstration pools for newcomers. The paddling demonstration pool will provide shallow water for guests to gain experience paddling and maneuvering through water on a kayak. Similarly, the 40-foot casting pool will allow guests to test their aiming skills with a fly fishing rod and bait.

Away from the water will be hammock villages, a mobile bike barn, a bounce house, a petting zoo, a water gun battle station, a beer garden, and music courtesy of DJ What! and the Glen Shelton Band.

The 2021 Helgramite Hustle Mud Run 5k will kick off at 11 a.m. The course will include a series of mud pits, a slide, and a romp through the creek. Registration is $30 until Aug. 6 and it includes a t-shirt. The registration fee will be $35 from Aug. 7-20 and $40 on race day.

For more information about the Smith River Fest, visit

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