Have you ever floated down Section 9 of the French Broad River? In my experience there are few better ways to get away from the fast pace of modern life and to see this beautiful part of the world the way the Cherokees saw it, who actually called this section of the river Tahkieostee (“where they race”). After several hours on the river, you arrive in the little town of Hot Springs, where throughout the 19th century a stream of wealthy visitors came via railroad to “take the waters” and enjoy the entertainment provided by a series of luxury hotels built adjacent to the thermal springs, along the banks of the French Broad. Today the Appalachian Trail runs right down Main St., and the surrounding area offers abundant recreational opportunities including hiking, fishing and mountain biking.
21 years ago a couple of friends thought it would be fun to “race” down Section 9 of the French Broad River and then have a party on its banks in Hot Springs, with any proceeds from the party going to charity. Well, as you can imagine a good time was had by all and the party has grown exponentially to a weekend outdoor and family music festival encompassing the entire Hot Springs Campground with national and local recording artists on multiple stages, a whitewater raft race, mountain bike race, kids’ village, outdoor gear silent auction, arts and craft vendors, outdoor vendors, and great food. To date over $200,000 has been donated to charities including American Whitewater, Big Brother/Big Sisters of WNC, Caring for Children, Eliada Home, Hot Springs Community Learning Center, Homeward Bound and more.
The 21st Annual French Broad River Festival is set for May 4-6, 2018 where the French Broad River meets the Appalachian Trail at the beautiful Hot Springs Campground & Spa. Festival begins Friday May 4th (arrive earlier for prime campsite). Visit www.FrenchBroadRiverFestival.com for tickets and details.
2018 musical acts include The Travelin’ McCourys, The Jeff Austin Band, The Grateful Ball, Billy Strings, Jon Stickley Trio, Sol Driven Train, Dangermuffin, Fireside Collective, HipGnostic, The Pond Brothers, a wandering mariachi band and much more! This festival always has a few surprises such as a juggling fire show, kids’ parade, mariachi, trapeze artists, fireworks, late night acoustic jams, and watch out for flying marshmallows! Proceeds from this year’s festival will be donated to American Whitewater, The Verner Center for Early Learning, and the Hot Springs Community Learning Center.
Photo by Great Smokies Photography