Raise summer funds and have summer fun

Staff from Harvest gets in some early target practice. Pictured (from left) Allyson Rothrock, Sheryl Agee, Kim Harris, Latala Hodges and Georgia Compton.

July 22, 2015

 Harvest Foundation President Allyson Rothrock is willing to get soaked to help raise funds for local nonprofit organizations.

 Rothrock has agreed to be sprayed with water for up to 15 seconds with a Super Soaker, or large, pump-action water pistol, during the Smith River Fest on Aug. 8.

 The “shooter” will be the person who makes the largest donation to a local nonprofit through The Harvest Foundation between now and Aug. 5.

 "Our work is so often tense and serious, and I think to many people I appear to be a very serious person, and in some aspects I am, but supporting the community doesn’t always need to be serious,” said Rothrock. “Let’s put some humor and entertainment into it.”

 At noon Aug. 8 at the Smith River Sports Complex, the person who made the largest donation will have 15 seconds to spray Rothrock with the Super Soaker. Her only stipulation is she be sprayed only from the shoulders down.

 To try for a chance to take the “shot” at Rothrock, people need to make out checks to a nonprofit of their choice in Martinsville and Henry County. Checks should be mailed to P.O. Box 5183, Martinsville, VA. 24115, or dropped off at The Harvest Foundation office at 1 Ellsworth St., in uptown Martinsville by Aug. 5.

 Cash donations also will be accepted.

 All donations will be delivered to the organization to which they are earmarked, according to Latala Hodges, director of communications/grants administration with Harvest. The Harvest Foundation will not keep any of the money, she added.

 Rothrock and Hodges said there is no goal for the fundraiser.

 "We’re hoping for tremendous support,” Hodges said. “We hope to get the community involved. We’ve heard of several pools in the making, (with) people joining efforts to have the largest donation.”

 She expects the pools of donors will focus on a few charitable organizations in the area, but she is prepared to be the conduit for all the donations, no matter how many Harvest receives.

 “If we get 200 donations, I’ll be delivering 200 donations. I hope it’s that big,” Hodges added.

 The idea for the soaking came from Harvest board member David Stone, who joked that Rothrock should be in a dunking booth at the Smith River Fest, according to Hodges.

 Hodges said she considered the idea, but when she looked at its cost, obtaining water and other factors, she deemed the idea a “logistical nightmare.”

 "I brought up this idea (of the Super Soaker), also completely joking. I never thought she would do it, and she went for it,” Hodges said of Rothrock.

 “I thought this would be hysterical and (said) ‘Let’s go for it,’” Rothrock said. “If it raises money for the nonprofit community … whatever it takes. “Let’s have some fun and raise money for that sector. I don’t take the time to have fun very often.”

 She also hopes the event will appeal to millennials, the generation between 16 and 35 years of age. Those people, she said, want to support their community but also want to know where their money is going.

 And, Rothrock said, they want to have fun.

 “For someone like me who has always worked (and) who doesn’t take time to figure out how to have fun, this is a great way to attract millennials and have fun,” she said.

 It also is a good way to get that generation involved in the nonprofit sector and understand its importance to the community, she said.

 The soaking will be held at Harvest’s booth at the Smith River Fest. The booth also will offer information, an iPad for guests to take the “Harvest Quiz,” a drawing for a gift card, freebies for children and more.

 For more information, call the Harvest Foundation at 632-3329, ext. 18.

Smith River Fest

 The festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the sports complex. Admission and parking are both free.

 In past years, more than 2,400 people from 14 states participated in the event, and festival organizers expect those numbers to grow, according to a news release from Jennifer Doss, festival co-founder and director of tourism with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.

 Highlights for the 8th annual event include the 4.8-mile long Smith River Race, the Helgramite Hustle 5K Mud Run and the Blue Ridge Duck Race.

 Guests will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on outdoor experiences that will include a scavenger hunt, stand-up paddleboard (SUP) demonstrations, casting demonstrations, a guided canoe/kayak ride, bicycle rides, dog handling demonstrations and the Smith River Experience, which will allow first-time paddlers a chance to take a short canoe ride.

 Several new activities have been planned this year, including the Kids Cycle Station which will promote bicycle safety, the Paw Path Pet-Friendly play area, a scavenger hunt, dog handling demonstrations and a gear swap where participants can buy and sell gently used recreational equipment.

 Vendors selling outdoor gear, crafts and gifts will be present as well as informational displays. Representatives of the U.S. National Whitewater Center and the American Canoe Association will be present at the event to talk about the growing popularity of paddle sports and green initiatives to protect waterways.

 Children can enjoy bounce houses, a climbing wall and a petting ranch which all will be offered at no charge. The Nature Exploration Zone will feature exhibitors that will offer unique opportunities to connect with nature and the outdoors. Knot tying, flint knapping, plant identification and storytelling are some of the free activities that will be offered in this area.

 Performances during the event will include chain saw-carving demonstrations by Woodchuck Woodcarvers and a concert by Southern Shine Band. A dozen food vendors will be on hand along with wineries and a beer garden. Shaded seating for dining and a hammock village for relaxing also will be offered at the festival.

 For those paddling the river during the event, free river shuttles will be provided. Rental boats will be available and a variety of guided trips will be offered. Everyone who enjoys the river during Smith River Fest is encouraged to paddle responsibly and wear a life jacket.

 The event, founded in 2008, is designed to promote recreational opportunities along the Smith River and the surrounding region.

 “We are fortunate to have many high-quality recreational amenities in our area, and Smith River Fest is the perfect way to showcase them. We are delighted to see this event grow in popularity each year so that residents and visitors can discover new ways to enjoy the outdoors,” Doss said.

 Smith River Fest is collaborative effort between Henry County Parks & Recreation, Martinsville-Henry County EDC’s Tourism Division, Smith River Sports Complex, Dan River Basin Association, Martinsville-Henry County YMCA, Martinsville Parks & Recreation and the Boys & Girls Club of the Blue Ridge. Vendor applications, race registrations and additional festival information can be found at SmithRiverFest.com or by calling 632-8006.


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