Wayne County Paddle Fest set for Saturday
By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on September 10, 2008 1:38 PM
As they checked the route of the the inaugural Wayne County Paddle Fest last week, Betsy Roseman and Tom Potter were impressed with the scenery -- hawks flying overhead, deer grazing along the banks, turtles out sunning themselves and blue herons quietly stalking kingfishers.
But said Potter, the executive director of the N.C. Paddle Trails Association, that was before Tropical Storm Hanna downed trees and it and other recent storms dumped nearly half a foot of rain rain on Wayne County.
So now they're just hoping the rising waters, the debris and the forecast of thunderstorms won't disrupt their planned dedication ceremony for the Wayne County Paddle Trail.
Conditions permitting, the dedication ceremony will be held on the Waynesborough Village boat dock at 10 a.m. Saturday, kicking off an all-day Old Waynesborough Bluegrass and Paddle Fest.
But if it gets rained out, then Mrs. Rosemann, tourism director at the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, said next year will just have to be the first festival.
"We had several music groups commit to perform for free, and we can't ask them to give up another weekend for a rain date," she said.
The Neuse is normally pretty sedate most of the time, Potter said, but because of the recent rains, the two-day paddle for seasoned paddlers and 45-minute novice float from the Waynesborough dock may have to be canceled.
Updates will be posted on the Web site www.ncpaddle trails.org.
Still, Potter and Mrs. Rosemann are hopeful, and that they're planning for Saturday's Paddle Fest will be the first of many events as Wayne County begins to cash in on what has become a popular trend throughout eastern North Carolina.
Potter, retired from the N.C. Recreation and Parks Department, explained that paddle trails came about because the eastern part of the state is often lacking in public lands for nature lovers to enjoy the wild.
"Paddlers are often conservationists and nature lovers," Mrs. Rosemann said.
And Wayne County has right many paddlers, Potter added.
"You ride around and see the canoes and the kayaks in the backyards, and you see them riding on the tops of cars," he said. "In the past 10-to-15 years, it's been a fast-growing activity for families."
And, he continued, paddlers are a social bunch, organizing into clubs and paddling together, sometimes They spend the night somewhere, Potter said, and many are calling for more streamside camping opportunities.
"We'll have 150-to-200 of them show up for the more established paddling events, and they drive in from all over the state," he said.
N.C. Paddle Trails Association has developed a paddle trail guide that shows where the mapped trails are in the Coastal Plain, which is divided up into eight regions covering about 35 counties, each of which has its own managing agency. The managing agency is Wayne County is the Travel and Tourism office. Potter is working on a Wayne County trail guide for the local office now.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Rosemann and Potter are going to be watching the river closely in the coming days hoping that the first annual Wayne County Paddle Fest will be held Saturday.
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