By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report
On July 14 the cancellation of what would have been the second annual “On The River” event slated for Aug. 21 in Front Royal was announced by organizers.
“It is with regret that the planned event OTR ’10, ‘designed to connect and reacquaint our community with the Shenandoah River,’ will not take place this year,” a press release from event Volunteer Director Tim Frees stated. “At this time the OTR Volunteer Committee would like to extend our deep appreciation to all the volunteers, vendors, exhibitors, and sponsors that stepped forward to support this year’s planned event.”
Asked for more detail about the cancellation, Frees later told us that a number of factors led to the decision.
“Water levels are a concern,” he stated about consequences of what has been a generally dry and hot spring and summer with reduced water flow in the Shenandoah River. “We wanted to match or better last year’s event and it just wasn’t coming together. We had to inform vendors whether we were going or not by an adequate date so they could make their plans and we decided to pull the plug now.”
Frees said it is currently hoped the event will be resurrected next year and stated that the OTR website will remain in tact. He also encouraged ongoing safe use of the Shenandoah River by locals and visitors alike.
“While our formal event will not take place this year, we encourage well planned river activities emphasizing water safety, environmental concerns, and family enjoyment of our great natural resource, the Shenandoah River. Front Royal remains ‘The Canoe Capital of Virginia’. Our website, http://www.canoecapital.org, will soon be updated for future OTR events,” the press release stated.
“Last year’s event, OTR ’09, was a great success,” Frees added. “The event was special due to the efforts and support of all the volunteers, vendors, exhibitors, sponsors, and especially the community. Over 200 folks participated in free canoe runs provided by Don Roberts (Front Royal Canoe) and John Gibson (Down River Canoe Company) as well as over 700 guests interacting with over 16 exhibitors coordinated by the ‘Friends of the Shenandoah River’. The event was held on the grounds of VFW Post 1860 with the tremendous assistance of the Post members and the Young Marines. Special thanks to BRAC for their support of ‘Paddle Art’.
Frees stated that the cancellation had absolutely no relationship whatsoever to recent reports of financial issues at the local VFW and the potential sale of the VFW property planned as a primary event site this year, as it was used last year.