Thu, April 09

It's a celebration! Verde River Days returns this weekend

Few in Arizona can claim to live near a river, much less, near a river that flows all year round. The Verde River's sparking voice and the other world of wildlife and recreational opportunities it affords makes that proximity a very special reality for habitants in Central Arizona. No wonder the annual of Verde River Day has spanned a generation this year. It is a celebration of life on the river.

If you haven't joined the adventure, you have missed the fun. But, don't go another year without it.

In addition to a wealth of exhibits and education and plenty of fun for kids, there are trail hikes, Civil War battles. There area activities galore and plenty of food to go along with it.

Many of the traditional exhibitions of conservation, wildlife and environmental organizations and entities will be on display, many with fresh material. There will be animal exhibits and information on the nature and environment of the Verde Valley and Arizona .

But, there are a lot of new items this year as well.

It all begins at 10 a.m. Saturday Sept. 27.

Everything is free at Dead Horse Ranch State Park all day Saturday September 27. There is only a charge for the entrance fee on Sunday.

There is sand castle building near the water and canoe rides on the water. The Boys and Girls Club and the Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations combine under a tent full of kids activities.

Jeanmarie Haney of the Nature Conservancy will explain the water flow around the park in a series of walks.

Parks Director Les Bovee says one of the more popular attractions has always been the canoe rides. Both adults and children love to get in the water and paddle around. Originally, when the main events were in the mesquite area of the park, the canoe trips were on the river itself. When the lagoons were built, it seemed a natural place for people to get into a stable canoe without assistance.

While there will continue to be canoe rides in the lagoons, this year, there will be canoes and kayaks on the river again.

Saturday Sedona Adventures Outfitters and Guides will host the river rides in kayaks.

"No kayaking experience? No problem" said Richard Lynch. The inflatable kayaks are comfortable and safe and "ideal even for beginners," said Lynch, a long time former river guide.

Sunday the Verde River Citizens Alliance will sponsor canoe rides down the Verde River. The one and a half hour rides will travel in groups at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Shuttles will bring travelers back to the park. But, you must pre-register for the fun. Call Marsha Foust at 634-8783. Remember on Sunday, the park's entrance fee is back in place.

Watch the herons on the shore and see where beavers make their home.

Part of the State Park becomes a Civil War battlefield and reenactors will transport an audience to battles in Tennessee between the Union and the Confederacy.

Kids will enjoy the many live animals and the chance to fish in the lagoon.

There are classic cars galore. Across the way vintage and teardrop trailers are on display.

Those who want a chance for some prize money should enter the excitement of the Verde Valley Rotary Duck Race.

The event is held in conjunction with National Public Lands Day, the largest hands on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the American pubic lands

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