Close to 150 kayakers will kick off at the High Bridge at Bull Run for the annual down river race. It's a bumpy road to get there but, if you can believe it, it used to be worse. The kayakers will end the race underneath the bridge and they can thank the Friends of the Cheat for making the road a little bit better.
"As we were making preparations for our down river race that is associated with the festival," said Amanda Pitzer, the Executive Director of Friends of the Cheat. "We were getting a lot of feedback that the road to Jenkinsburg, also known as Bull Run which is the take out for the Cheat Canyon, the road was just in deplorable condition."
The organization had excess money from the white water fund and raised money through private donations to fix the road. Contractors and a few workers from the department of highways dug up big rocks and put down gravel so drivers would have a safer trip to the river access.
The project was finished just in time for the Down River Race that kicks off the Cheat River Festival. The festival brings thousands of people to Albright and it's celebrating 20 years.
"What has enabled the festival to grow and be profitable is the generosity of our musicians and all of the volunteers," said Pitzer. "We have about 150 volunteers that give their time to help us put on this event."
The organization collects 40 percent of it's overhead budget for the year from the one day Cheat River Festival.
Friends of the Cheat had around $18,000 to fix Bull Run but didn't spend it all. So, they're thinking for the future.
"Now we're thinking what next? Friends of the Cheat has four white water accesses that we maintain," Pitzer said. "We're looking at the white water access in Rockville, which is related to the Big Sandy, we've got plans to continue improving access and we're still taking donations."
The down river race is just the beginning, the Cheat River Festival will kick off with a 5K at the Preston County Country Club and continue with free live music all day from 12-11 PM.
There will be free kids activities in the 'Cheat River Pirates Cove' from 12-PM and a kids parade at PM.
Friends of the Cheat is also having a special fundraiser for the Keith Pitzer Memorial Stage. The goal is to raise $30,000. The organization is also raffling off an Andrew White guitar & DelFest tickets $5 chances or 5 for $20. See who signed the guitar at the Cheat Fest web page.