The second annual Etowah River Water Trail Rodeo, featuring an 8-mile paddle on the river, will take place in Bartow County Sept. 20.
The event will last from 1 to 8 p.m., and participants will travel from the Leake Mound Site in Cartersville to Frankie Harris Park in Euharlee. The paddle will be followed by a dinner from Johnny Mitchell’s Smokehouse, games, a silent auction, and a kayak giveaway from The Outside World. Tickets cost $50 or $45 a piece for two or more tickets. The cost includes a complimentary kayak or canoe rental compliments of Euharlee Creek Outfitters and Rome-based nonprofit Coosa River Basin Initiative, dinner, shuttle services and automatic entry into the raffle for the kayak giveaway.
The proceeds from the event will go toward the improvement and construction of the Etowah River Water Trail, a 163-mile water trail the spans from near Dahlonega to Rome. With six river launch sites in Bartow County — two completed or improved within the last year — Keep Bartow Beautiful Executive Director Sheri Henshaw said that Bartow is becoming an economic center for river recreation. And to host the rodeo is a testament to Bartow’s commitment to increasing the usability of the river.
“Well, it’s special for us, first of all, because for a long time we’ve known how unique the Etowah is,” Henshaw noted. “It is an unusual ecosystem. It’s one of the most varied in the world and [has] diverse populations of threatened and endangered species. And it’s got a long, long history.
“It’s interesting because the lake has always been a big economic driver,” she continued. “And now people are starting to discover and enjoy the wonders of the river, and we’re thrilled with that.”
KBB Director of Programs Missy Phillips echoed the same sentiment.
“We’ve seen with the river that, [it’s] really changing the economics in Bartow,” she said. “I see a lot of vehicles from out of town, out of county, at other businesses in town and restaurants. And we’re really driving people to the river and they’re having a great time. And it’s been a real community effort.”
The Etowah River Trail Committee includes representatives and stakeholders from all along the river, including CRBI, the Georgia DNR, the Georgia River Network and more, Henshaw said. The funds collected during the rodeo will specifically be used for marketing, creating signage, and building more access points along the trail.
Henshaw said the organizers are hoping for a turnout of at least 100 people at the rodeo.
“I think that would thrill everybody, if we could get 100 people to come out and cruise the river,” she stated. “Don’t think you’re too old to do this or too young. And it’s a good thing. If you’ve never tried it and you’d love to try it, then this would be a great chance, a great opportunity to take a Sunday afternoon with your friends and to come out and learn what this is all about and have some fun.”
CRBI’s Joe Cook stated in a press release that the rodeo “is a great opportunity for those who have never explored the river before to experience it in a safe and fun environment.”
Phillips said the event has already, in some ways, been a success, due to the involvement and support of local businesses and organizations.
“We’ve got donated auction items from Play It Again Sports, from Terminus [Wake Park], from Bartow County Parks and Recreation and Red Top [Mountain] State Park cottages,” she noted. “It’s already been an extremely successful event, in that we gathered some of the best of the community to promote this.”
The full list of sponsors includes Johnny Mitchell’s Smokehouse, Euharlee Creek Outfitters, The Outside World, Anheuser-Busch Cartersville Brewery, Pepsi, Play It Again Sports, Bartow County Parks and Recreation Department, Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department, Terminus Wake Park, Red Top Mountain State Park, city of Euharlee and CRBI.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.coosa.org/events/etowah-river-water-trail-rodeo.