ERWIN, Tenn. (WJHL) — Brannon Schmidt is passionate about the outdoors. His company’s booth, Blue Ridge Paddling, at the Erwin Outdoors Festival entertained a lot of visitors—each of which he considers an opportunity to share the beauty and possibility of our region.

“Well, the outdoors have a special place in my heart, specifically paddling our river recreation,” Schmidt said. “And it’s great. It’s my passion in life. And nothing fulfills my life more than sharing what I love with our guests. So they come to Blue Ridge paddling. They’ve either been rafting before, they’ve either been kayaking before or they have never. And it’s our goal to give them a really top-notch experience, not to just get them to come on our trip with us, but I’m here to grow the paddle sports in general.”

Schmidt says it’s part of the reason he loves what he does. He says people need to know and safely experience their home resources.

“Yeah, you know, we get that a lot,” Schmidt said. “People are very can be very nervous about rafting and all that. So it’s important to set them up for success, meaning choose an appropriate section of the river. Luckily, here at Blue Ridge, paddling we operate on the Lower Nulla Shockey, which is a great first-timer, family-friendly float. There are a couple fun, splashy rapids, but mainly it’s class one and two with one class-three rapid.”

Schmidt says it’s usually pretty easy to inspire people to get outdoors, once they’ve been introduced to the basics.

“They learn that, hey, this is a great activity,” he said. “I can do it safely. OK, so with the proper training and guidance, more and more people are being able to access that great resource, which is when the knowledge happens. And that’s kind of how I feel on that.”

Schmidt has made a life around Blue Ridge Paddling and introducing people to all of the resources our region offers, especially on the water. He said he wouldn’t have it any other way.