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On The River 2010 canceled despite large success of last year

Brandon Ketola and Darrian Stoki paddle blindfolded
Brandon Ketola, 13, left, and Darrian Stoki, 15, right, paddle blindfolded while Jeremy Orye, 12, gives them directions during the blind man paddle competition at last year's On The River. Andrew Thayer/Daily file (Buy photo)

By Ben Orcutt - borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- On The River 2010, a celebration of one of the community's most important natural resources that was scheduled for Aug. 21, has been canceled.

"It's disappointing to all of us that were involved that we had to make cancellation," Tim Frees, the event's volunteer coordinator, said Wednesday. "We had a great event last year and we had hoped to have as good a one [if not] a better one the following year. It just didn't fall into place. Perhaps next year something can develop."

Frees says in a news release issued Wednesday that more than 200 people took advantage of free canoe rides, and more than 700 people interacted with more than 16 exhibitors, during On The River 2009.

Last year's event was held on the grounds of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1860 in Front Royal, but Frees said the post's current financial problems had nothing to do with this year's cancellation.

"It had nothing to do with the issues of the VFW and their property," he said. "That definitely is not an issue."

There was no single issue that led to the committee's decision to cancel this year's event, Frees said.

"There's no one thing I can attribute to it," he said. "There are a lot of variables involved and a lot of things had to fall into place to make something work. We did not want a mediocre event. We wanted to do something that the community could be proud of, and maybe it's the type of event that needs to be done every other year. I don't know. I don't want to project right now on that, but we need to sit back and let the dust settle a little bit."

Planning for this year's event began with committee meetings in January, Frees said. However, once the committee was uncertain about everything coming together, a decision was made to cancel and it was necessary to give "proper notice to any exhibitors and vendors. We're at the point where we had to make a decision."

Jennifer Keck, director of tourism for Front Royal, says in a Wednesday e-mail that committee members hope to hold On The River 2011.

"We are hopeful that the event will take place next year and will continue to highlight the awesome natural and recreational resource we are so fortunate to have in our backyard," Keck says.


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