|RiverFest events begin March 22 and continue to April 19.|
COTTONWOOD - The Verde River Valley Nature Organization is celebrating from C to Shining C - Clarkdale, Cottonwood and Camp Verde - and bringing a month of river recreation events to the Verde Valley from Saturday, March 22, through Saturday, April 19.
RiverFest begins with Outdoor Science, activities for the entire family, in conjunction with the Arizona SciTech Festival at Dead Horse Ranch State Park next to Cottonwood from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 22.
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 Saturday, March 29, the annual Verde River Runoff launches at White Bridge Park just east of Camp Verde. This 10-mile race is open to canoe and kayak, tandem and single, competitive and recreational, male and female. The finish line is located at Beasley Flat, 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, go online to VerdeRiverRunoff.org before March 25.
Next up is Rails Along the River on Saturday, April 5. 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 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 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. The excursion cost is $79.95, lasts from 1 to 5 p.m., and includes the $5 entry fee for the swap meet. To be a vendor or reserve a seat on the train car, call Bruce Mauer at 307-259-0765.
On Saturday, April 12, VRVNO takes a break from hosting events while the sixth annual Brian Mickelsen Memorial Run/Walk strides along the Verde River.
Finally, 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 on Saturday, April 19.
Paddle leisurely, because this is not a race along a 3.5-mile stretches of the Verde River. Stop 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 finish where the grand prize is awarded.
A prize for the lowest poker hand is awarded too, making it worthwhile for even the unluckiest to play. To register, go online to Clarkdale.az.gov. There are no late entry fees if people register before April 6.
If you would like to volunteer to help during RiverFest, send an email to email@example.com. To be a River Wrangler volunteer at the Poker Run, contact Dawn Norman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-639-2490.
People can pick up copies of the RiverFest program guide at the events and at RiverFest advertiser locations in the Verde Valley: Verde Valley Newspapers, Credit Union West, Arizona State Credit Union, Big O Tires in Cottonwood, Hacienda restaurant, Verde Lea Market, Wild West salon and Old Town Red Rooster CafÃ©.
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.