This special outing, beginning at 9 AM Saturday morning with transport from the Fairgrounds, has been arranged through the Dan River Basin Association. The Director, Katherine Mull, gives the following description of the event as planned:
Charlie Poole River RambleThe Charlie Poole River Ramble, a leisurely two hour float, will be guided by Three Rivers Outfitters. The trip begins on the scenic Smith River, near the historic 1892 Spray Mercantile Building where paddlers will hear the stories of this once-thriving textile town.
Internationally renowned banjo musician Charlie Poole worked here at Spray Cotton Mills. In July 1925 Poole and his North Carolina Ramblers made their first recording with Columbia Records. Their record was a smash hit and sold an unheard of number, more than 100,000 copies.
Also nearby is the historic 1898 Nantucket Mill. Piedmont Folk Legacies and the National Banjo Initiative envision a new life for the mill as a National Banjo Center, museum, recording studio and performance venue.
After putting on the river at Spray Cotton Mills, paddlers will float under Island Ford Bridge near Spray Circle and past the new Island Ford Landing at Eden’s Smith River Greenway. About a mile downstream, after passing under the Kings Highway Bridge, paddlers will come upon a large rock formation on river left known as Bear Slide, a state Natural Heritage Area recognized for rare communities of wild flowers.
Paddlers can expect to see June wildflowers, water fowl and perhaps even Eden’s mascot, a river otter.
Past Bear Slide, where the Smith joins the Dan River, paddlers will turn upstream a short distance to view the impressive remains of the 1852 Leaksville Toll Bridge. After floating down to the nationally famous arched Mebane Bridge, paddlers will take out at the NC Wildlife Access on the Dan River where all will be shuttled back to the Charlie Poole Festival in time for lunch at the fairgrounds.
The Saturday morning expedition includes the boat rental and guide, transport to and from the Fairgrounds, a light breakfast, refreshments on the trip, and a voucher for lunch, all for $50 inclusive of the whole festival, Friday evening through Sunday morning. Space will be limited, so sign up early, on line, or just send your check to P.O. Box 867, Eden, NC 27289.
As usual, admission to the festival only is $15 for Friday evening or the Saturday afternoon and evening competition, or $25 for the whole weekend. Sunday morning activities are to be announced.
Basic camping is available, with bathrooms and showers, at a charge of $10 per night, $20 maximum, and campers will be welcome any time during the week preceding the festival. A group of 6 family and friends can get a weekend pass on line for $100, a substantial saving. Festival tickets and tickets for the River Ramble will be available on line, the latter to be limited in number– first come, first served.
A “Little Ramblers” children’s area, sponsored by Sheetz, will be another new addition. Food and other vendors will be on-site for the festival. Schedules and other information will be posted soon at www.charlie-poole.com. For further information call 336-623-1043.
This project receives support from the Rockingham County Arts Council and the NC Arts Council, an agency of the NC Department of Cultural Resources.