KERMIT — Tug River enthusiasts need to get their kayaks ready as the Kermit Volunteer Fire Department will be having its first ever kayak race in the Tug Fork River on Saturday June 22 beginning at noon.

Kayakers will begin the race at the starting point in East Kermit and float to the finish line which will be the bridge on Virginia Avenue in Kermit.

Registration fee for the inaugural event is only $25 with the winner receiving a grand prize of $300. Prizes will also be awarded for second and third place finishers.

"We came up with this idea as a way to help buy additional water rescue gear for the fire department," Kermit Fire Chief Wilburn "Hawky" Preece said. "We have 12 divers and two boats. We have already been on eight rescue and recovers this year but we are looking to expand our water rescue team to help meet the growing need of the Tug Fork River and its people."

The KVFD is the only department in Mingo County and one of just a handful in the southern part of the state to have a well-trained swift-water operations team.

They have gone to several different training courses provided by West Virginia Public Service Training over the past few years including a course at the New River Gorge last September.

Preece said with the popularity of the Tug River now and the amount of people on the water, it is imperative for his department to stay up to date with the proper training and equipment.

If you don't own a kayak but still want to compete in the race Rebel River Outfitters will be on hand renting out kayaks for one day at only a $10 fee.

Personal flotation devices are not required for the race but are recommended. For a $10 donation to the KVFD kayakers can float down at their own pace if they do not want to compete in the race.

Preece said his department will have both of their boats on the water on the day of the event just in case something was to go awry.

The KVFD plans on having several more events like this on different parts of the Tug River throughout the rest of the summer and into the fall. For more information you can contact "Hawky" Preece at 304-784-3853.

Jarrid McCormick is a sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.