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Festival to aid natural treasure

On Saturday, a new festival will debut — joining the many festivals enjoyed by Denton and area residents.

This one, GreenFest on the Greenbelt, is being created to raise funds for reopening the equestrian trail between FM428 and FM455, repairing Greenbelt restrooms, installing a wetland viewing deck and trail and supporting the Greenbelt Alliance of Denton County.

All of these updates will offer the public more opportunities to share the wonders of nature with family and friends.

“We’re raising funds to help care for it,” says Richard Rogers, chairman of the Greenbelt Alliance. “Our mission is to preserve the greenbelt in its present, natural state.”

The greenbelt is a wilderness area with approximately 10 miles of multi-use trails and waterways for bicyclists, equestrians, hikers, kayakers and others. The 1,500-acre Ray Roberts Lake/Lewisville Lake Greenbelt Corridor runs north/south along the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, connecting Ray Roberts Lake with Lewisville Lake.

A number of people use the Greenbelt for jogging, walking, bicycling and parts of the Trinity River Basin for kayaking and canoeing.

The festival, which will cost $7 at the gate, will offer lots of activities including archery, climbing, kayaking, biking and geo-caching. Historians and craftsmen of the Cross Timber eco-region will be at the Ray Roberts Lake Greenbelt access point off FM455 below the dam. Carriage and pony rides will be offered, birds of prey and reptile exhibits will be available for viewing, a fishing competition is set and the youngsters can enjoy an inflatable obstacle course and slide.

Early birds (those planning ahead) can get advance tickets for $5.

Pooling resources, officials from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the city of Denton, Greenbelt Alliance and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been planning the event since May.

“It’s our first year,” Rogers says, “and our biggest challenge has been getting the word out.”

It’s an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and do something good for the environment — all at the same time.

It’s also a pretty low cost way to allow the family an opportunity for everything from outdoor archery (the in thing among the “Hunger Games” crowd) to pony rides (very popular with the knee-high set.)

The family-friendly festival is designed to connect people with the outdoors, Rogers says.

“We hope people will come out and show their support for the greenbelt — it’s our region’s natural treasure.”