RiverFest - Celebrating the Verde River

Beginning March 22nd and progressing through April 19th, the Verde River Valley Nature Organization (VRVNO) is celebrating from C to Shining C – Clarkdale, Cottonwood and Camp Verde – and bringing a month of river recreation events to the region. P1020406RiverFest begins with Outdoor Science, activities for the entire family, in conjunction with the Arizona SciTech Festival at Dead Horse Ranch State Park on March 22nd from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Admission to the Arizona State Park supported event is free. Learn about the science of recreation and nature through workshops and exhibits that answers the questions of “how” and “why”. Fishing, boating, optics, water science, ecology, geology and zoology are featured with hands on projects and demonstrations.

On March 29th, the 2nd Annual Verde River Runoff launches at White Bridge Park just east of Camp Verde. This ten-mile race runs on a beautiful stretch of the Verde River and is open to canoe and kayak, tandem and single, competitive and recreational, male and female adrenaline seeking water sport enthusiasts. The finish line is located at Beasley Flats, a U.S. Forest Service Recreation Area. The Runoff is possible through a special use permit from the Prescott National Forest. To register for the race, visit www.VerdeRiverRunoff.org before March 25th.

Next up is Rails Along the River on April 5th. Showcasing the Verde Valley Railroad history, this event includes travel to local model train displays including the largest layout in the State of Arizona. A Swap Meet at the Clark Memorial Clubhouse Auditorium in Clarkdale, from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM, features vendors offering collectables, model railroad trains and Big Boy Toys. An exclusive, first-class luxury train car on the Verde Canyon Railroad is reserved for 24 people and includes a special meal and presentation of the history and natural wonders along the rails traversing through an abundance of native flora and fauna, rugged, high-desert rock faces and spectacular vistas that are only accessible by rail. The excursion cost is $79.95, lasts from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, and includes the $5 entry fee for the Swap Meet. To be a vendor or reserve your seat on the train car, call Bruce Mauer at 307-259-0765.

blue sky blue waterFinally, the Town of Clarkdale and VRVNO are dealing up a chance to win $1,000 if you have the winning card combination at the Verde River Poker Run. Paddle leisurely, because this is not a race, along one of the most pristine 3.5-mile stretches of the Verde River, stopping along the way to collect cards for your poker hand. The fifth card is dealt at Clarkdale Park in the midst of the Post Paddle  Party, featuring vendors, live music and the exciting finish when the grand prize is awarded. A prize for the lowest poker hand is awarded too, making it worthwhile for even the unluckiest to play. Remember, you gotta paddle to play! Odds are, this inaugural event is destined to be a hands down favorite. To register, visit www.Clarkdale.az.gov. There are no late entry fees if you register before April 6th.

Be sure to pick up your copy of the RiverFest program guide, available at the events and at the following locations – Verde Valley Newspapers, Credit Union West, Arizona State Credit Union, Big O Tires – Cottonwood, Hacienda restaurant, Verde Lea Market, Wild West Saloon and Old Town Red Rooster Café. The guide has information about the Verde River, a map of public river access points (RAPs) and contact information for a variety of area conservation organizations. From eradication of invasive plants to advocating for a sustainable water future, there is sure to be a cause that fits your passion. The common thread throughout all of the organizations is the value of the Verde River.