Ever Heard Of Goat Island? This Weekend’s Paddle Sports Festival Aims To Spread Word

Ever Heard Of Goat Island? This Weekend’s Paddle Sports Festival Aims To Spread Word
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SNOW HILL – Goat Island’s lone resident will have a few new friends following a unique Snow Hill event set for this weekend.

Snow Hill will host its first paddle sports festival, Return to Goat Island, June 18 and 19. Though the festival includes several races, the highlight is the 17-mile paddle race. The winner will have the opportunity to name one of a handful of goats that will soon be moved to Goat Island.

“I want to put Goat Island on the map along with Snow Hill,” said Michael Day, the town’s economic development consultant. “Everybody has fallen in love with the concept of ‘Return to Goat Island.’”

According to Day, the two-acre island — located just across the water from Byrd Park — has always been home to a handful of goats.

“There are a lot of rumors about Goat Island,” he said. “There are different theories about why it happened.”

Regardless of how the island really earned its name, the herd of goats there has dwindled in recent years. There’s currently just one billy goat sheltering among its trees.

“The lonely goat,” Day explained.

When Walk on Water’s Sandy Deeley expressed interest in holding some sort of paddle sports event on the Pocomoke River in Snow Hill, Day came up with the idea of tying it to Goat Island.

On Saturday, the Return to Goat Island festival will feature a children’s race around Goat Island as well as a three-mile race and a six-mile race.

“The three- and the six-mile race are right in front of Byrd Park,” Deeley said. “It’s a pretty good spectator sport.”

The races are open to standup paddleboards, kayaks, prone paddleboards and outrigger canoes. Saturday’s races begin at 9 a.m. and are expected to wrap up by early afternoon. As they’re underway, attendees can enjoy live music and take advantage of food and drink vendors that will be set up in the park. A petting zoo of more than a dozen goats will include four or five marked with blue ribbons. Those goats — the Nigerian dwarf variety — will be moving to Goat Island this summer.

“We want to bring four or five to Goat Island so there will be no more lonely goat,” Day said.

The festivities will resume Sunday, when paddlers will push their limits with a 17-mile race. The winner of that race will receive prize money as well as the opportunity to name one of the goats headed for Goat Island.

“It’s going to be a great time,” Day said.

Deeley says he can’t thank town officials enough for agreeing to bring a paddle sports festival to Snow Hill. He says the Pocomoke River has long been an underutilized Worcester County attraction.

“It’s a phenomenal body of water that people aren’t taking advantage of,” he said.

Deeley, who has attended paddle events throughout the country, says the popularity of standup paddle boarding has grown immensely in recent years and that Return to Goat Island is an opportunity to bring the sport to Snow Hill.

“It’s not only a great location it’s a great town,” he said.

Adults have until Friday to register for the weekend’s festival while children can enter the day of the race. For more information go to www.walkonwatersupco.com or email Day at  day@snowhillmd.com.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.