SportsEvents Magazine

AUG 2018

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August 2018 22 Fayetteville sits on the rim of the New River Gorge and stretches more than 70,000 acres from Hinton to Cotton Hill. The land is protected by the National Park Service and is an outdoor haven and a premier destination for whitewater rafters and fisherman. Fayetteville is known as one of "America's Coolest Small Towns," and sports and outdoor enthusiasts benefit from knowledgeable outfitters, bike shops and equipment providers. The deep river gorge is flanked on both sides by rock walls and lush forests that serve as a retreat for hikers, mountain bik- ers and rock climbers. Each year thousands of people from around the world travel to the area to raft the New and Gauley Rivers. September 4-8, the 2018 United States Rafting Association National Championships hosted by the United States Rafting Association (USRA) will bring athletes from across the United States to compete on the rapids in the qualifier for the World Rafting Championship to be held May 2019 in Austrailia. Whitewater rafting in this part of West Virginia started in 1968 when whitewa- ter pioneer Jon Dragan and his brothers founded Wildwater Expeditions Unlimited, West Virginia's first commercial whitewa- ter rafting business. The rafting business grew along the rivers in West Virginia and enticed travelers to the area for the rapids, lodging, dining and recreation to create a multimillion dollar industry. In downtown Fayetteville, visitors find outdoor gear, handcrafted collectibles, and a variety of local eateries such as Pies and Pints, Secret Sandwich Society, Cathedral Café and craft beer at Bridge Brew Works. The downtown area also includes 75 historic homes and buildings and sites along the Civil War Trail. The rivers and gorge provide plen- ty of year-round activities, including Gauley Fest, a three-day festival with live entertainment, silent auctions and boat raffles in the largest paddling fes- tival in the world. The event is held at Nicholas County Veterans Memorial Park in Summersville, West Virginia. This year's event is Sept. 13-16 and all proceeds ben- efit river conservation projects. This event is made possible at the end of the summer or first of fall when water is released during scheduled times from the Summersville Dam. The release of the pent-up water creates the world-class rapids. Later in the fall, more excitement comes to the area during Bridge Day. This year's event is scheduled for Oct. 20 and features BASE jumpers leaping 800 feet into the New River Gorge. Considered one of the largest extreme sports events in the world, this event is held each year on the third Saturday in October in Fayette County. More than 80,000 spectators are expected to attend this year's event that features six hours of BASE jumping and it's the only day of the year when traffic is closed to allow spectators to safely and legally walk across the world's second lon- gest single arch bridge. The event also includes Bridge Jam, Fayetteville's premier music and craft beer festival, a 5K run, a Taste of Bridge Day festival and the general public can zipline or rappel from the bridge. Information provided by the West Virginia Tourism Office. For more infor- mation, visit Special Feature: 2018 NATURAL VENUES GUIDE Fayeeville WEST VIRGINIA POPULATION: 204,759 Photos courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office U.S. Women's White Water Racing Championships on the New and Gauley Rivers in September. BASE jumping New River Gorge.

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