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Verde River Runoff Canoe/Kayak Race

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According to the latest issue of TheDaily Courier, 26 March 2014, Camp Verde, Arizona is throwing one of the biggest celebrations of the season.

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Guests can choose to be wined, dined, paddled and even jailed 1930s style if they are so inclined.

This three-day festival (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) has been titled “Camp Verde's first Spring Heritage Pecan & Wine Festival.”

The festivities will include the Camp Verde Pecan & Wine Festival, Verde Valley Archaeology Fair and Verde River Runoff canoe and kayak race, as well as a host of activities surrounding the Arizona State Parks Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month celebration. Admission to all events is free. Charges apply for wine tasting and race participants.

“The Pecan & Wine Festival, which has been around since 2001, has been moved from February to the end of March. It runs 10-6 Saturday and 10-5 Sunday at 395 S. Main St. It features the choicest product of the vintner's art from 12 of the Verde Valley's premier wineries. A $12 charge for wine tasting includes five sample tickets along with a commemorative wine glass.”

Along with these other activities, “The Old Town Center for the Arts in Cottonwood will present the fourth annual Old Town Blues Fest on Saturday, March 29. It will feature national and local musicians, including Arizona Blues Hall of Famer Tommy Dukes.”

For anyone interested in Native American history and culture the Verde Valley Archaeology Fair is the place to be. Its mission “Is to preserve archaeological sites and collections, to curate the collections locally, and to make them available for research and education; to develop partnerships with American Indians, cultural groups and the communities it serves; and to foster a deeper understanding of prehistory and American Indian history in the Verde Valley through the science of archaeology.’

In addition to the major events, the Camp Verde Historical Society will open the historic 1933 Camp Verde Jail, the 1917 George Hance House and the CVHS Museum. There will be no admission fee at Fort Verde State Park on Saturday and Sunday.

The Verde River Runoff is a 10-mile canoe/kayak race and fun run from White Bridge to Beasley Flat. It originally began as the Canoe Challenge in 2000. Racers launch from the White Bridge River Access site at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The Verde River Runoff, according to the Verde River Valley Nature Organization (VRVNO), traces its origins to the Verde River Canoe Challenge sponsored by The Salt River Project and administered as a class project under the direction of Dr. Charles Hamersley of the Northern Arizona University Parks and Recreation Management Program.

The first year it was held was 2000 and 27 racers in 18 boats participated. The final year it was held in its original format, there were 104 boats and 138 racers. Nothing succeeds like success.

During that 11-year period, the race was cancelled only one time (2010) when the water flows rose to unsafe levels during the race weekend. The design of the event focused entirely on the River and there was minimal involvement in those days on the part of the town of Camp Verde. People came to race and to enjoy a morning on the often fast moving, always narrow Verde River. They were not disappointed.

This terrific river event was reborn in 2013 under the umbrella of The Verde Valley River Nature Organization (VRVNO). Last year 133 people in 86 boats participated and had a great experience.

Additionally, the Runoff is part of the larger April Verde Riverfest which includes such VRVNO organized events as the Verde River Poker Run for canoe and kayakers, the Rails on the River for model train hobbyists, and the Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival. Also during April, The Camp Verde Spring Heritage Festival will be celebrated. If you are visiting from out of town, you will find many reasons to come back during April.

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