Front Royal celebrates recreation and the outdoors Saturday with its first Back to Nature event on Saturday afternoon.
Artists, businesses and outdoor organizations such as Front Royal Outdoors, the Warren County-Front Royal Appalachian Trail Community and the Front Royal Warren County Visitors Center plan to set up booths with outdoor themes along Main Street offering information and specials featuring quest hikes, outdoor gear and artwork.
Kelty, a Colorado company specializing in backpacking and hiking gear, plans sell equipment at the event.
Front Royal Outdoors plans to offer free canoe rides on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River from noon to 4 p.m. People interested in participating can register at the corner of Main and Crescent streets, one block west of Mountain Trails. Free shuttles will provide transportation to and from the river.
Front Royal Outdoors owner Don Roberts spoke by phone Thursday about the event. Roberts said the business has operated all summer during the coronavirus pandemic while following health and safety recommendations. The business requires that people wear masks. They also operate vehicles at half capacity transporting a limited number of people at a time and with windows down, Roberts said.
“Half capacity is better than no capacity,” Roberts said.
Front Royal Outdoors remained closed in the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic. As state restrictions loosened, people came out to the area to take part in outdoor activities. Business picked up by June and has remained steady although Front Royal Outdoors continues to adhere to statewide recommendations.
“Most people were very happy to be out and having a canoe or a kayak on the river is a great way to social distance and get some activity still keep yourself safe,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he and other local business owners wanted to hold a larger event but decided to start smaller, socially distanced and dispersed.
“Hopefully. if all goes well, we will have a much bigger, multi-day event, hopefully next year, but it’s still in the works,” Roberts said.
Front Royal and Warren County provide a setting for outdoor recreational activities.
“This is a celebration of all the natural resources that we have here so close to the Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest, Shenandoah River State Park,” Roberts said. “There’s just so much to do, from hiking, biking, paddling, so it’s a diverse area that offers a lot for people.”
The Warren County Front Royal Appalachian Trail Community will also provide information on its Quest Shenandoah program that gives hikers the chance to earn a special edition patch.
Front Royal Brewing will sponsor live music featuring headliner Bud’s Collective. Other local bluegrass musicians will be performing on Main Street earlier in the afternoon.