Ok. This one is on the extreme northern end of the southern edition of Weekend Picks, but it is so important a couple extra minutes in the car, and one state border crossing, should not deter you from attending. The Smith River flows out of Philpott Lake and through southern Virginia, before meeting up with the Dan River in Eden, North Carolina. The Smith is a vital source of recreation for the area of Martinsville and surrounding communities, providing a great space for kayaking, tubing, and canoeing along with nearly 20 miles of shared use trails in the Smith River Trail System that runs along the river. The Smith is definitely one of the most important natural features of the region in terms of activity and healthy living.
It is also a great trout fishery, as the water that flows out of the dam at Philpott Lake is cold enough to support brown and rainbow trout, a boasts a large Trout Unlimited chapter. The trout fishery is also ground zero for one of the great educational programs in the East: Trout in the Classroom. The program brings the process of stocking trout streams right to the students, who learn about the environment and conservation through the raising of hatchling trout. The area surrounding the Smith River has one of the largest Trout in the Classroom programs in the country, and it has made a huge difference to the students. You can read more about Trout in the Classroom here.
The Smith River Fest is a celebration all the Smith River gives to the community. From paddling, to fishing, to biking and nature watching, the river provides a lot, and this is a great opportunity to give back. The Martinsville, Henry County area has taken an economic hit in the past decade, but the downturn has had a silver lining for the community that is beginning to pay off. There has been a renewed interest in promoting the outdoor recreation and healthy lifestyle aspects of southern Virginia, which are ample with rivers, mountains, and trails all nearby. You can see the enthusiasm the community has for the outdoors at the free Smith River Fest on the banks of its namesake. There are activities for all ages with live music, a 4.8 mile river race, fly casting lessons, nature walks, 5K mud run, cornhole, climbing wall, free canoe rides for the kids and a beer garden for the adults. Plus, there will be over 100 vendors, from gear and art to environmental groups like the Dan River Basin Association to provide entertainment and information.
The Blue Ridge Outdoors Roadshow will also be on hand, so swing by the booth and sign up for our raffle to win sweet outdoor gear from our sponsors.