8th Annual Ridgway River Festival
JUNE 27, 2015
Ridgway River Festival (RiverFest) is a family-friendly celebration of the Uncompahgre River and our community with all-age river races, live music, local food and drink, kids’ activities, watershed educational and cultural programs. The highlight of the day is the infamous “Junk of the Unc” race in which boaters maneuver their craft, constructed from scrap materials not intended for river travel, through whitewater rapids and others’ junk, trying to keep it all intact for the 0.5 mile finish line.
RiverFest is produced by the Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership, a Ouray County non-profit watershed group dedicated to helping protect the economic, natural, and scenic values of the Upper Uncompahgre River Watershed.
2014 RiverFest wrap-up….
The 7th annual Ridgway River Festival made a big splash this year in Rollans Park, Ridgway CO on June 28, 2014. The celebrations were kicked off by a Native American ceremony by Uncompahgre Ute Roland McCook, great great-grandson of Chief Ouray and Chipeta. Downriver races followed and included: hard shell kayaks and canoes, stand up paddle boards, and inflatables. An all-age rubbery ducky race rounded out the morning river races: Stanley The Duck, the timid underducky, punched through the yellow flotilla just seconds ahead of his rival Bob. The rest of the flotilla escaped the nets as high water made scooping nearly impossible. The high flows also made for exciting whitewater challenges, thrills and spills during the afternoon river races. Six boaters electrified the crowd with playboating tricks including surfing, spinning, cartwheeling, looping and flipping on one of the park’s standing waves. The much awaited, infamous Junk of the Unc race followed the rodeo. In this race, participants of all ages maneuvered their watercraft constructed out of junk not manufactured for river travel through two drops and 0.5 miles of river to the finish line. Finishers had to cross the line with most of their junk intact. The competition was fierce as this year’s first and third place finishers, Gannon Rikkers, Owen Juell and Ellis Markey, all teenagers, gave a RiverFest veteran Willy Krois a run for his money. Complete race results are included below.
When not playing in the river, festival goers enjoyed local food including BBQ, Cajun and Thai cuisine, local brews and libations from Colorado Boy Brewery, Two Rascals Brewing, and Trail Town Still. A watershed education area engaged participants of all ages in hands-on learning activities. Kids enjoyed a scavenger hunt, collected stream bugs, learned about non-point source water pollution, baked cookies in a solar oven and put their artistic skills to use in the face-painting booth. The perfect sunny day was rounded out with live music by Mike Gwinn and North Fork Flyers from Paonia, CO. It featured original songwriting by Mike Gwinn and inventive arrangements, searing solo’s and a lively musical dialogue between all players as well as American songbook jazz, rock, pop, reggae and ballad. RiverFest was made possible through sponsorship and product donations from outdoor retailers and local businesses as well as support of numerous event volunteers. We heartily THANK all for their contributions!