Get outside.

That's the invitation from the city of Norton and Wise County Cooperative Extension office as the High Knob Outdoor Fest prepares for its second year this weekend.

The lineup for Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16-17, reflects diversity in activities, music, food and venues as sponsors showcase the organizations, businesses and communities working to promote and grow outdoor recreation opportunities in the High Knob region.

While the event is centered at the Norton Expo Center in downtown Norton, planned excursions include everything from moonlit kayaking on Norton reservoir to a float down the Clinch River, hiking on Pine Mountain to mountain biking on High Knob, watching butterflies to climbing boulders.

A screening of the documentary, “Hidden Rivers,” will also be shown Friday, Aug. 16, at Sugar Hill Brewing Co. in St. Paul.

On Saturday, Aug. 17, outdoor vendors, food trucks, a beer garden and live music will gather in downtown Norton from 2-7 p.m. in the vicinity of the Norton Expo Center and soon-to-open Sugar Hill Cidery buildings, located at 815 Park Ave. SW.

More than 20 vendors have registered to attend the festival so far, including the town of Big Stone Gap, city of Norton, town of St. Paul, Wise County Tourism, Natural Tunnel State Park, U.S. Forest Service’s Clinch Ranger District, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Master Naturalists’ High Knob Chapter, Wise County Health Department, Clinch Life Outfitters, Pathfinders Outdoor Adventures, Iron Works Cycling, Stone Mountain Adventures, Mountain Sports Ltd., Appalachian Woodcarving, Appalachian Voices, The Clinch Coalition, The Nature Conservancy, Heart of Appalachia Tourism Authority, High Knob Hellbender 10K, Pine Mountain Trail Conference, UnitedHealthcare and the Woodbooger Fest committee.

On-site demonstrations include wilderness survival with Pathfinders Outdoor Adventures, casting demonstration and competition with Clinch Life Outfitters, Backpacking 101 with the Pine Mountain Trail Conference, healthy eating and the outdoors with Virginia Cooperative Extension, nature-based crafts with Virginia Master Naturalists and a bike maintenance station and test rides with Iron Works Cycling. A kids’ mountain biking demo course will also be featured. Children who participate will be entered into a raffle to win one of two mountain bikes.

The festival will also feature raffles for outdoor gear and trips for individuals who participate in off-site outdoor activities on Aug. 16 and Aug. 17.

Featured food vendors will include Sugar Hill Cidery, Sugar Hill Brewing Co., and Cheesy Does It. The beer garden will feature craft brews from Sugar Hill Brewing Co. and wine from MountainRose Vineyards. Live music from 3-7 p.m. will feature Andrew Alli and Josh Small, the Empty Bottle String Band and the Beth Snapp Trio.

Andrew and Josh provide a unique blend of acoustic blues, folk and soul music with a honest and loving approach. The Empty Bottle String Band specializes in playing toe-tapping, highly danceable traditional Appalachian music. Their sound is inventive, while still staying to the old time string band tradition of the 1930s. Singer-songwriter Snapp creates a unique sound of folk, bluegrass, pop, early rhythm and blues and jazz.

In addition to downtown festivities, several outdoor trips will be held Aug. 16-17. A moonlit kayak trip will be held on Norton Reservoir on Friday, Aug. 16. Trips on Aug. 17 will include: Outdoor yoga at Flag Rock Recreation Area; mountain bike ride on the Flag Rock Area Trails system; road run up High Knob; guided hikes on the Pine Mountain Trail and to Chimney Rock in Scott County; butterfly hike in Flag Rock Recreation Area; educational float on the Clinch River; and bouldering on High Knob.

In addition, the festival will offer a screening of “Hidden Rivers,” an hour-long documentary created by Freshwaters Illustrated that explores the rivers and streams of the southern Appalachian region, North America’s most biologically rich waters. The film follows the work of conservation biologists and explorers throughout the region, and reveals both the beauty and vulnerability of this aquatic life, and how many people are finding ways to protect it.

More information on the film can be found at

The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at Sugar Hill Brewing Co. in St. Paul on Friday, Aug. 16. Tickets are free but limited to 40 people due to space constraints. Pre-registration is required.

A panel discussion of the film will follow the showing at 8 p.m.

Festival sponsors include Ballad Health, the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, UnitedHealthcare, First Bank & Trust and Old Dominion Power.

Updates about the festival can be found at and

For more information about the second annual High Knob Outdoor Fest, please contact Katie Dunn, or 276/679-1160, and Emily Wells, or 276/328-6194.