Select Trail Days events expected to fill up quickly

ELKIN — Locals are encouraged to sign up now to secure spots for some of the most anticipated events of N.C. Trails Days, which will run June 3-6 in Elkin and its surrounding natural areas.

The most popular events of the 2019 inaugural festival included the low country boil, the flotilla and guided hikes. This year, all of those events will likely sell out due to pandemic social distancing guidelines.

“All of the hikes this year have limited availability for the comfort and safety of attendees and guides,” said organizer Natalie Eidson.

At the 2019 festival, the flotilla drew a much larger than anticipated turnout.

“That first year, we did it all at once,” Eidson said. “We probably put 200 people on the river within an hour of each other.”

“This year, we’ve spread it out into four different time slots. You show up, you get on a shuttle, they take you to Ronda and there is somebody there to take you down the Yadkin River.”

The event will accommodate 200 again this year, but will be limited to cohorts of 50 paddlers (or floaters, as the case may be).

“It’s a really fun event to do with your friends,” Eidson said. “You can do a tandem if you want. I personally get in the kayak and sit and let the river do the work.”

With nearly 100 individual events spanning four days, Elkin and the surrounding natural attractions are expected to draw large crowds from across the state, based both on the inaugural 2019 popularity and increased interest in hiking during the pandemic.

The low country boil coincides with the block party event Friday night featuring live bands downtown. For $25, low country boil ticket holders will dine on shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes, as well as enjoy premium seating near the concert stage. The boil is sponsored by Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital and the menu also includes a salad with ingredients sourced from Greenhouse Towers in State Road.

Street closures will be limited throughout the weekend, Eidson said. During the low country boil and downtown block party on Friday night, West Main Street will be closed from Bridge Street to Church Street. During the downtown Vendor Village from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, West Main Street will be closed from Bridge Street to Front Street (at the library). Bridge Street will remain open the whole weekend, so locals shouldn’t experience much change in normal traffic patterns.

In addition to limiting capacity at some events, the festival will follow all Covid-19 safety guidelines from the state, the CDC, and those applicable to state and national parks. Guided hikes will require masks to be worn when hikers are within 6 feet of each other.

“We are spacing out our events even more than we have before,” Eidson said. “During the 5 Point Adventure Film showings, we will have people there to direct attendees to seats to help keep everyone spread out. We will also be using more ‘stand-up’ conversation tables that only allow small groups to gather and they will be spaced out accordingly. We plan to have signage throughout the festival as a reminder to festival attendees to keep a safe distance and practice the 3 W’s.”

Lisa Michals may be reached at 336-448-4968 or follow her on Twitter @lisamichals3.