Front Porch Blog

Hellbenders, gyotaku, and watermelon — oh my!

By Meg Holden
A journalist and editor with a keen eye for detail, Meg served as AV’s Communications Intern for summer 2011.

You might be saying “huh?” But the kids and families who came to RiverFest on Saturday, June 4, are all saying “yes, please!”

Families from all around the High Country — and a few from out of town — joined Appalachian Voices at Valle Crucis Park in Valle Crucis, N.C. to spend a sunny day learning about our Appalachian Rivers and the creatures that make them so special.

Hellbenders (also called snot otters), giant salamanders that can grow up to two feet long, are important indicators of water quality and have been slowly disappearing from our mountains in the last 25 years. Rocky, a hellbender from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, made a special appearance at RiverFest, joined by Snotty the Snot Otter — a new mascot from the N.C. Zoo. Both were a huge hit with everyone!

In between cake walks, face painting, and storytelling by Orville Hicks, kids had the opportunity to try out gyotaku, a Japanese fish printing method, while learning about fish adaptations. Parents and other visitors checked out the Pickin’ Parlor and live music from Appalachian musicians, practiced fly-tying, and learned primitive skills. Everyone enjoyed the no-hands watermelon eating contest and river parade.

RiverFest also served as the Appalachian Voices annual membership gathering, and a host of new members were represented.

Lots of folks ended the day with a splash in the river. A good time was definitely had by all.

Appalachian Voices wants to thank all our many sponsors as well as the wonderful people who came out and enjoyed RiverFest. See you next year!





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