Rafting numbers continue to grow

Figures released by the Cocke County Clerk’s office on Tuesday, Jan. 15, show a total of 225,651 rafters paid to enjoy the local streams and brought in a total of $375,567 to the county coffers.

HARTFORD—Hartford’s very own Smoky Mountain River Rat Whitewater Rafting Company is getting Cocke County some east coast publicity by recently being selected for three different nominations in the Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine’s annual awards contest.

“We were really excited about the nominations. Blue Ridge is a publication that gets good readership all over the east coast,” said co-owner Wayne Duerer.

The rafting outfit is one of five finalists for both the Best Raft Guide Company and the Best Outdoor Company to Work For. The third nomination is for employee Kelly Gladen as Best Raft Guide.

Duerer feels much of the outfits success can be credited to the exemplary customer service that the company and its guides strive to offer to each rafter on each trip.

“We don’t look at this as just paddling down the river. We come with eagerness and a lot of experience to try to meet the personal skills and needs of each of our guests. We like to be on a personal level with each person,”said Duerer.

The personal level of customer service has earned the seasoned rafting company rave reviews on social media from past and current guests. The climb in popularity has skyrocketed the outfit from the listed as number 3 on Trip Advisor in the 2019 season, to the number one spot for the 2020 season.

Publication for Outdoor Enthusiasts

The Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine is an adventure travel publication for the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic region with a distribution that reaches from Baltimore to Atlanta and covers all scopes of outdoors interests from hiking, biking, rafting, skiing, tubing and zip lining.

The magazine offers recommendations for best businesses in an area, dining, trails and lists area events and destinations.

Cocke County Chamber of Commerce Director Lynn Ramsey said the chamber and tourism department were excited to learn of the news.

“This is so good for our county and tourism, especially as we advertise the county as the “Adventure Side of the Smokies”, said Ramsey.

Smoky Mountain River Rat Whitewater is family owned by Shannon and Shannan Skidmore and Wayne and Jennifer Duerer.

Voting for the contest ends this Thursday, Nov. 7 and winners will be announced sometime in December.

Anyone wishing to show support and vote for River Rat can go online and visit www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/best-blue-ridge-2020.

For more information visit the company’s Facebook page.

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