High Country Association of REALTORS News

Things to do on a weekend - Let the kids celebrate our waterways

The High Country is home to some gorgeous rivers and streams. Not only do they nourish the blossoming environment, but offer countless opportunities for swimming, fishing, rafting or just swaying your toes across the surface to and fro. Emphasizing these treasures is a goal of Saturday's annual Riverfest, held at beautiful Valle Crucis Park.

The park itself is bordered on one side by the Watauga River. It includes a wading area popular with children. Fly fisherman cast away afternoons there. Kayaks aren't strangers. Consider the vegetation and the occasional crawdad or two, and there's nowhere better for a Riverfest.

“So, bring your swimsuits,” festival coordinator Parker Stevens said. “The high’s in the upper 80s, so it’ll be a really good time to take a dip in the river and cool off.”

River and Earth Adventures will be running float trips down the river, along with a shuttle service to get folks back to the festival.

Before hitting the river, folks can also learn about its many denizens. Representatives from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the N.C. Zoo are bringing Rocky, a live hellbender salamander. Native to rivers in western North Carolina, hellbenders can grow up to 15 inches long. Reclusive by nature, they serve as natural indicators of a waterway’s cleanliness, as they only thrive in pristine, clean waters. ...

Other activities include a river parade courtesy of Elkland Art Center, a water cycle obstacle course, a talk with Watauga Riverkeeper Donna Lisenby, nature walks, cakewalks, piñatas, face-painting, a no-hands watermelon eating contest, storytelling by Orville Hicks and Gyotaku fish prints, a Japanese style of art using paint and rubber molds to create colorful prints of fish.

“It’s shaping up to be a lot of fun and a really great way to get people engaged and excited about the river,” Stevens said.