Shire is ready to reap benefits of Avon Descent

Ahead of this weekend's Avon Descent, the Shire of Northam president has encouraged businesses to take advantage of the extra foot traffic in town.

The 2019 Avon Descent will kick off in Northam on Saturday morning before making its way through Toodyay and Bayswater.

Shire president Christ Antonio said although the race was only in Northam for a matter of hours, benefits were there.

"It is an important event not only for the Shire but for the state," Mr Antonio said.

"It's great to see the local involvement in the Avon River Festival and the street parade on the Friday night.

"This year the Bilya Koort Boodja Centre will be open for those who are around to have a look through and learn about our local Indigenous culture.

"A lot of the benefits are the flow-on effects.

"I'd like to think for every dollar spent we would make $5 in return over time.

"A lot of businesses can benefit from having the event in town."

Mr Antonio said community involvement had shaped the history of the event.

"The Avon Descent is WA's second longest running sporting event, running since 1973," he said.

"I know the committee is working towards the 50th anniversary in the coming years.

"What the committee has done has encouraged younger competitors to take part and have created different distances in the course.

"They are thinking of the future of the event."

The president wished all competitors good luck for the big race, particularly the local teams who had fallen short the year prior.

"Last year I was waiting all day to hand out the medals to our two local teams but 2km from the finish line they both broke down," he said.

"Hopefully, this year I can be there at the end this year to give them their medals.

"It is pretty special when you have locals involved."

In the lead-up to the event the Department of Transport (DoT) has advised river users to take extra care as the event takes place.

DoT waterways safety management director Chris Mather said the Avon Descent could impact river users.

"DoT encourages people to check the scheduled activity for the waterway they plan to use and when on the water take extra precautions particularly when operating close to blind bends and within narrow channels," Mr Mather said.

"High speed power race vessels are exempted from the usual speed limits during approved events and may approach other users without warning.

"Swimming where events are scheduled is discouraged."