The 13th annual Catawba RiverFest will take on special significance this year as the event will also mark the North Carolina State Parks Centennial Celebration at Lake James. And if that wasn’t reason enough to attend the Sept. 17th festivities, the McDowell Trails Association Lake James Triathlon/ Duathlon is happening in the morning. It’s going to be a fantastic day highlighting conservation, community and economic organizations celebrating the park system and the Catawba River Basin and its critical importance to the quality of life we all enjoy. The festival will take place in and around the lower parking lot at the Paddy’s Creek Area, between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Information and interactive booths for dozens of area conservation, outdoor recreation and historic organizations will help visitors understand and appreciate the story of the river, how it has shaped the region and the many challenges it faces today. There will be opportunities to demo kayaks, canoes and paddleboards free of charge. The all-day raffle will feature prizes that include park posters, t-shirts, pottery, framed art, a 9-foot kayak package and a mountain bike. Raffle tickets are available now for purchase at the Lake James State Park concession stand and during the event. Just attending the festival will earn you an entry into a raffle for Lake James State Park merchandise giveaways.
Festival goers will also be able to participate in a host of free educational programs throughout the day including junior ranger programs. Starting with a live bird demonstration and rehabilitated hawk release at 11:30 a.m., the events continue throughout the day with paddle eco-tours organized by the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation or take a trip on a ranger-led boat tour - just visit the N.C. State Parks booth when you arrive and fill out the sign-up sheet. There will be a fascinating presentation on the history of Fonta Flora and Mills Creek. In addition to scheduled activities, throughout the day there will be craft tables set up for take-home kid’s crafts.
Some of the scheduled exhibitors include the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission, Lake James Area Wildlife and Nature Society, McDowell Trails Association, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Catawba Valley Heritage Alliance, Lake James Environmental Association and many more. Musical entertainment will occur throughout the day, courtesy of Alan Darveaux with Slight Departure and Strictly Clean and Decent. Local food vendors will have a variety of lunch options available and the park concession stand will be open throughout the day, selling snacks, ice cream and refreshments to the masses. The Catawba RiverFest is sponsored by Lake James State Park, Catawba Valley Heritage Alliance and the Friends of Lake James State Park. More information can be found at www.facebook.com/FriendsOfLakeJamesStatePark or call (828) 584-7728.
Registration for the McDowell Trails Association’s Triathlon/Duathlon can be made by visiting their website at www.mcdowelltrails.com.