By Estella R. Fullmer
For Hometown News
EDGEWATER -- From kayaks and paddleboats to mini-golf and carnival rides, the Edgewater RiverFest & Business Expo 2013 offered fun for the whole family Saturday, March 23.
Hundreds of local businesses lined Riverside Drive from Kennedy Park to Menard May Park with tents and information tables handing out a variety of items from Frisbees to cupcakes and free books.
People packed the street and carnival park and waited in line to take a try at the kayaks, paddleboats and hydro bikes offered free by East Coast Paddle, Waterbike Rental and Echo tours and Odyssey Outfitters.
Michael Ralston and Taylor Craven waited several minutes before their chance came to try out a two-seated kayak. Adrian Bronson and Steve Waterman of Odyssey Outfitters gave them a shove off the beach and watched them make their way out to the buoys in the Indian River.
"We are so happy to be here," said Mr. Waterman, "It is great to see people come out and go out there in kayaks and paddle boats and have a great time."
This is the first year Odyssey Outfitters has been to the annual expo, according to Mr. Waterman. "It is definitely worth it. We are having a lot of fun doing this," he grinned and then pointed out that Mr. Ralston and Ms. Craven were stopping by the floating hot dog stand on the river.
Odyssey Outfitters offers tours, rentals and summer camps for the kids according to Mr. Bronson. They have several types of kayaks and paddleboards and said many people were trying out the different types Saturday in order to determine which one to purchase.
John Bakker of Ontario, Canada, who has been coming here for 11 years tried out the Hydro bike from Waterbike Rental and Echo Tours. "I liked it," said Mr. Bakker. "It was very stable and picks up speed a lot faster than I thought it would."
Waterbike Rental's owners Pam Rance and Phyllis Robbins were busy assisting people on and off their Hydro bikes. They are a local business with bikes at Cracker Creek and Ponce Inlet.
"We are doing really good business today. We are just out here to let everyone try them," Ms. Rance said. "They are very stable and also easy to get on and off so even those with some mobility issues can ride them."
A Minnesota engineer designed the bikes, which can go 5 to 10 mph. Waterbike Rentals and Echo Tours are the leading East Coast Distributors of the new water sports vehicle. They have been in business for just over a year and are doing well, according to Ms. Rance.
"It was fun!" exclaimed Kaylee McCarthy of New Smyrna Beach. "I went three times!" She was referring to the stand-up paddleboard rides by East Coast Paddle. There were also kneeling paddleboards available for those who wanted to try a more stable board.
Along Riverside Drive the businesses were maintaining the fun by handing out mug coolers, pens, tote bags and food. Several had drawings for free services or coupons for their establishments. Chick-fil-A had a wheel of fortune where anyone could give it a free spin and win coupons for free food or drinks. Vance Smith's Chick-fil-A at Edgewater also was selling sandwiches and drinks. Meanwhile, The Book Rack of Edgewater was giving away free books and a $5 store credit coupon.
Kaye Walker of The Southeast Volusia Chamber of Commerce was on hand to direct people to the various areas of the RiverFest and hand out catalogs and coupons for local businesses in Oak Hill, Edgewater and New Smyrna Beach.
AA Armstrong Insurance of Edgewater handed out mug coolers, pens, refrigerator magnets and buttons while explaining they handle all types of insurance. Representatives from Bert Fish said they come here every year and had seen a great turnout Saturday in spite of the looming cloud cover. They offered the public free tote bags, Frisbees and notepads.
Marvin Moore of Edgewater took a few moments to try his hand at the mini-golf. He managed to sink the ball on his second try. "I am glad the rain has held off," said Mr. Moore, who also claimed to be having a good time and attends the festival every year.
Several businesses were in attendance for the first time, such as Empire Cylinder Welding Machines and Park Avenue Medical Group Neuropathy. People were enjoying free cupcakes provided by The Hostile Cupcake sporting their logo, "So delicious it can make you mad!" Also a new business, the cupcake shop in Edgewater makes Caramel Macchiato, Irish Car Bombs, Lemon Meringues, Snicker Doodles, S'Mores and many other varieties of cupcakes.
Libby Martin from Solar Fit was promoting "green" technology and providing information about their Solar cooling units, solar hot water heaters and solar electric panels with the help of their mascot, Sun Pup. The Kennedy Space Center Federal Credit Union was looking for clients. David Jimenez said, "We are the best credit union in town!" Edgewater Chiropractic and Home Depot also had booths along Riverside providing information to the public.
The Marine Discovery Center at 520 Barracuda Blvd. in New Smyrna Beach was handing out information about their Kayak Challenge on April 13.
"This is a chance for people to get out and paddle and have fun doing it," said Warren Reynolds of the MDC. "We just want to challenge people to get on the water," agreed co-worker Michelle West. The MDC offers guided kayak tours, touch tanks and exhibits open to the public as well as spring break camps for kids. In addition to the Kayak Challenge, April 13 also is Customer Appreciation Day and pontoon boat tours will be discounted 10 percent for members along with 15 percent off gift shop items and 10 percent off books. Call (386) 428-4828 or visit marinediscoverycenter.org to make a reservation or for more information.
Another New Smyrna business, Just Checking In, Mom, is looking for clients as well as employees. Desiree Culver and Marianne Chapin run the non-medical in-home care service. Their office is next to Pappas restaurant on U.S. 1 at Turnbull Bay Road and they provide home companion service, which can include running errands, meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry and transportation to doctor appointments. They also provide a call-in service to check in on clients on the days they are not scheduled to be in the home. They are looking for employees who can pass a background check and have reliable transportation. Contact them at (386) 423-4213 if interested.