Continuing to develop what organizers hope will become a new May tradition for the Scotland County area, the second annual Chalk Banks Challenge is set to kick off under blue skies this Saturday at 10 a.m at the Chalk Banks Access Area of the Lumber River.
The Challenge, which will feature canoe and kayak races, will be highlighted by an increasingly popular homemade raft race.
“We are getting word that a number of rafts are already to go into the water,” says Cory Hughes, Executive Director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority (TDA). “Now whether they can float or not we’ll find out Saturday.”
A 5k run was also recently added to the end of the canoe/kayak race to create a water/land biathlon for those interested.
Lumber River enthusiast Whit Gibson, who has served as one of the events organizers, emphasized the fun of the event, which drew more than 400 to the banks of the Lumber River last year.
“The Lumber River is a great river, and it looks clear for the weekend,” said Gibson, who expects as many as 500 to attend this, the second edition of the Challenge.
Gibson recalls fondly the days when a similar event was held on the weekend of July 4th during the 1970’s and 80’s.
“It was a great time, and a really big event with many, many people,” said Gibson of the celebration, which was for those decades the established Independence Day gathering for people in the area.
He hopes to enroot a similar tradition with the Chalk Banks Challenge, which offers an opportunity for locals to take advantage of what Gibson calls “a wonderful resource.”
While dozens are expected to participate in the various races, it is the fun to be had on dry land that is expected to draw the masses.
Food vendors, nature displays and canoe rides will all be available to attendees and kids can even try their hand at fishing.
“It’s a fun, free day to spend with your family outdoors,” said Hughes.
There will also be live music throughout the day.
“We want the people of Scotland County to recognize the beauty of the river and the fun that can be had there throughout the year,” Gibson added.
In what will be good news to those with homemade rafts of dubious constitution, the weather forecast is ideal for this year’s event.
To get to the Chalk Banks Access Area, from Laurinburg take U.S. 401 North 10-miles to Wagram, the park entrance will be on your left – ¼ mile past Wagram.
For information on the canoe, kayak and biathlon races, please contact Mickey Turlington of the North Carolina Canoe Racing Association at 910-904-1578 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For raft or overall event information, contact the Lumber River State Park at 910-628-4564 or by email at email@example.com and visit www.chalkbanks.com