Franklin County's River Ramble Attracts Hundreds

Benjamin Franklin Middle School's 7th Graders Prepare to float Friday Night. Courtesy: Joni Bowman

Franklin Co., VA - Over 500 people armed with kayaks, canoes, and homemade floats raced and floated down Franklin County's two main rivers in races both Friday and Saturday, raising money and enjoying the area's waterways at the same time.

Friday Night, an estimated 450 participants gathered for the "Blackwater Blackout" near Rocky Mount on the Blackwater River at 7:30 p.m.

Friday's event went well into the night and included a three mile float down the Blackwater River. People dressed their boats up with glow sticks and on-board lights, since the race and float was held in the dark.

There was a $15 registration fee for those participating in the blackout race. Participants were also treated to a meal and concert.

All of the money raised from Friday Night's event went toward the Antioch Community Park.

On Saturday, river enthusiasts and newcomers alike paddled the Pigg River for a day race.

Despite overcast conditions and a few sprinkles, over 100 people from across the region came to Waid Park to either race or float the eight mile course down the Pigg River.

ABC 13's own meteorologist Jamey Singleton was on-hand to give weather updates before the racers and floaters put in at the park.

Marcia Cramblitt, with Franklin Co. Parks and Recreation, said the event always draws a huge crowd of both river enthusiasts and spectators alike.

"We try to make the ramble weekend itself something that the entire family will enjoy", Cramblitt said. "It's really amazing to see how the events have taken off over the past several years."

Cramblitt said having the hundreds of participants bring their families and friends to Franklin County gives the local economy a shot in the arm.

Registration for Saturday's ramble was $20 a person, with children under 12 admitted free. The money goes to help out Franklin County's Parks and Recreation's services.

Saturday's Pigg River Ramble was Franklin County native Summer Shively's third year taking part in the event. Shively said the "ledge", a challenging drop during the river route, is most popular and a dreadful part of the course for most, but it didn't bother her and her friends.

"The crowd just keeps getting bigger," Shively said. "I like how the whole county comes together in one event to share what we love, to float! Everyone talks about the ledge and how bad it is I like to be around people that like to have a good time and do what I do. That's what keeps me coming back," Shively said with enthusiasm.

Others simply enjoy the competition.

"I love to participate because of the desire to compete with my buddies in the Ramble," Freddie Hodges said. "The ramble is special in that if offers something for everybody such as several racing divisions of kayaks and canoes for all ages and gender as well as the fun floats for people who don't want to race. It is truly a unique event that Franklin County puts on year after year!"

The participants in Saturday's event took out at Lynch Park in Rocky Mount.

A toy duck race, awards ceremony, and barbeque dinner were later held back at Waid Park.

If you missed Friday's and Saturday's activities, you can still take part in Sunday's "Breakfast on the Blackwater" event.

Registration for Sunday's three mile float on the Blackwater River starts at 8:30 a.m. Breakfast will be served. The actual float starts at 10 a.m.

Sunday's event starts at New Plant Road off of Grassy Hill Road. The registration fee is $15.

If you would like more information on how to become involved in next year's river rambles, visit the Franklin Co. Parks and Recreation website.