By Richard Rourk
NoliFest returns this weekend and will kick off the outdoor recreation season at USA Raft Adventure Resort in Erwin.
NoliFest, which features music, vendors and lodging for outdoor enthusiasts, will be held on Friday-Sunday, April 22-24.
“Before it was an organized event NoliFest was a group of paddlers getting together to say, ‘Yay! It’s paddling season,’” said USA Raft General Manager Kenne Medley.
“Now it is a festival for anyone and everyone who loves the outdoors,” Medley added. “We have land and whitewater races, shuttles and events for anyone and everyone as long as they love being outside.”
This year’s NoliFest will take place at its historic spot as USA Raft continues to make improvements on its new site.
“We will have NoliFest at our Jones Branch property this year,” Medley said. “Unfortunately, we are not quite ready to unveil Red Banks to the public but are very close. Folks are welcome to go down and check out Red Banks. We have a full-blown outfitter store where one can buy anything from a T-shirt to a stand-up paddleboard or one-wheel.”
NoliFest continues to be a top destination for those seeking the latest in outdoor recreation gear and supplies.
“Again this year we have some of the top names in the whitewater and outdoor communities coming out to support us,” Medley said. “Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine is a title sponsor this year. We also have Jackson Kayaks and Pyranha Kayaks as vendors.”
Medley noted that the festival’s stand-up paddleboard race is sponsored by HALA Stand-Up Paddleboards.
“They will be giving away two boards I think to the SUP race winners,” Medley said, adding that Jack Nelson from HALA Gear helped to get NoliFest off the ground. HALA also assists with setting up and sponsoring the SUP Races.
“We will have a total of 18 vendors, three to four food trucks and one beverage cart, serving organic teas,” Medley said.
Guests will be treated to the sounds of some of the region’s best live acts during NoliFest.
“As far as bands go we have Brushfire Stankgrass as our headliner Saturday at 8 p.m.,” Medley noted. “We also have Shuffler Sound System playing Friday 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. after which My New Favorites will perform live at 8 p.m. Shuffler Sound System will be playing again Saturday from 2 to 7 p.m. “
Although lodging is sold out for NoliFest, there are still one-day and three-day passes left.
“NoliFest is a time for this special community to come together and celebrate our region, recreation and to fellowship in a place we all hold dear for our own reasons,” Medley said.
“Whether one came here, Erwin or USA Raft, for the river or the mountain, something causes people to return and celebrate it by enjoying it together,” Medley said.
“After three years apart because of flooding and a pandemic that has endured, we are ready to break out 2022 in proper form,” Medley said.
“We are bringing back the country’s first Onewheel Race, the SUP Races, and Beat the Nightfall races,” Medley added.
Medley promised that NoliFest is sure to have something for everyone.
The best way to get the most up-to-date information on the festival is by calling 1-800-USA-RAFT.”
The three days of NoliFest will be held at 2 Jones Branch Road in Erwin.