The first weekend of May 2012 witnessed some of the best river action east of the Mississippi at the 15th annual French Broad River Fest, held in Hot Springs, N.C., on the classic southeastern French Broad river since 1997.
The annual event has grown exponentially since its inception as one of the newer (for those who have been around a bit) eastern whitewater festivals, and last year raised more than $5,000 for American Whitewater and other non-profits.
According to festival organizers, the main mission of the FBRF has, “not only been to have a wonderful time with friends and family, but also to give back to organizations within our local communities. In the past 15 years we have donated over $100,000 to area charities including; American Whitewater, Hot Springs Community Learning Center, Manna Food Bank, Families Together, Elida Home for Children, Big Brothers and Big SIsters of WNC and many others.”
This particular fest goes for an all-out good time with a raft race, river cleanup, kids village and even a mountain bike race, to see who gets to pedal shuttle. The raft race is unique in that anyone can participate…the gear, raft, paddles, even a guide, is provided, you just show up with all the collective arm strength you can muster onto a team. It’s one of the most family friendly and fun-for-everyone events out there, not to mention one of the most music-heavy.
Twenty-five acts performed at the 2012 FBRF, including some heavy hitters such as Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. Others included Sol Driven Train whom you may recognize from Gauley Fest, The Gourds, Balsam Range, Eyes of Elders and many more.
Another cool and unique event at the FBRF is the “Paddle with the Pros” course, where attendees got the chance to run section 9 of the Broad with three-time world canoeing champion Eli Helbert, of the U.S. Freestyle Rodeo Team.
Stay tuned for next year’s Fest because camping fills up quickly. Surf in to www.frenchbroadriverfestival.com for more information.