If you’re looking for a fun-filled family event on the river, look no further.
Tara Hall Home for Boys will host their second Paddle Fest fundraiser June 15, which is open to the public. The event will feature kayaking and canoeing down the river, along with bluegrass music from local bands, inflatables, arts and craft vendors, and a meal.
This year’s fundraiser boasts lower prices and more activities, features that will hopefully draw in a bigger crowd, said Patsy Morris, assistant director.
“We’ve lowered the prices this year to make it more affordable to families, instead of making them spend $200 on a day event,” Morris said.
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Between 200 to 400 people crowded onto the campus last year, and about 115 paddlers participated on the river. This year, Morris is hoping to double those numbers.
The boys are also atwitter for the event, and 8-year-old Jadus is no different. He’s been at the home for about 6 weeks, but he’s already found his favorite activity.
“I love swimming,” Jadus said. “Swimming ... and girls.”
Jadus plans to spend the Paddle Fest in the water splashing with his friends, but he’s willing to take a few rides down the inflatable slide, especially if any girls ask him for company.
No food vendors are allowed into the event, but the home is opening up vendor tables to area businesses. Morris hopes the addition will appeal to the older generation.
“We’re hoping (vendors) are going to help the adults have something to do,” Morris said. “We want to make this a family-oriented event.”
Paddling participants will launch their kayaks and canoes between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Black Mingo Creek, and travel about four miles downstream to Tara Hall. Safety boats and water stops will be positioned along the river for paddler safety. The route should take about three hours to complete.
At 10 a.m., Tara Hall will open their gates to the public.
Last year, the home drew in between $10,000 and $11,000; this year, Morris hopes to raise $30,000, but will be happy with whatever the fundraiser reels in. Sponsorship registration runs through the day of the event, but early registration is suggested.
There’s a $10 gate fee to enjoy the festivities, and adventurous paddlers are asked for a $20 kayaking fee. Children ages 8-16 are only $5 to paddle. Those without their own canoes or kayaks can rent one from River Rats Canoe Rentals for $10.
Vendor tables cost $50 each, and sellers will be able to keep their proceeds.
“Donations are always welcome, though,” Morris laughed.
Sponsors include area church groups, Teachers’ Heaven bookstore in Georgetown, businesses in Pawleys Island and several organizations in Myrtle Beach.
“We’re still trying to get more sponsors, but right now we’ve got people from everywhere,” Morris said.
All the proceeds will go to the home for general operations, which helps area boys in scholastic trouble catch up to their peers, said Jim Dumm, director.
“A lot of these boys are a few years behind academically,” Dumm said. “Not because they’re not bright, but because they haven’t had the support academically and they haven’t had anyone push them”
Tara Hall’s goal is to get them back on track academically, as well as mend behavioral problems to allow the boys back into public school as soon as possible, Dumm said.
The hall is licensed to care for 24 boys at a time, but the numbers usually range from 17 to 20 children, usually aged between 6-12.
Schools, churches and families can refer boys to the home, and each applicant must go through a screening process which can take anywhere from a week to a month. Boys stay in the home at least a year, but can participate for up to three years.
Tara Hall has four part-time staff and 11 full-time staff, and is partially subsidized by the state. The service is free to the boys’ families, but donations are always encouraged.
River Rats will have a drawing to win a kayak to both age groups (adults and children), and Morris said there are plenty of surprises in store.
“Everyone who comes will have a great time.”
Tara Hall is located at 510 Tara Hall Road, Georgetown. For more information, call 546-3000 or visit www.tarahall.org.