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Yampa River Festival to make big splash this weekend

A raft flips in Charlie’s Hole along the Yampa River at the 2019 Yampa River Festival, which returns June 4-5 for in-person events. (File photo/Katie Berning)

The annual Yampa River Festival, hosted by local nonprofit Friends of the Yampa, will return this weekend for its 41st year, in person after going virtual last summer. The two-day event will begin on Friday and continue into Saturday with popular events, such as the Fish Creek Kayak Sprint, Stand Up Paddleboard Downriver Race and Raft Rodeo Exhibition.

The main event will take place Saturday at Charlie’s Hole, behind the library, and includes events, such as the Kayak Cross, Tube Rodeo and Kayak Rodeo.

“The river festival will feel pretty normal this year,” said Friends of the Yampa Executive Director Lindsey Marlow. “There won’t be drastic differences. We are asking that unvaccinated people wear a mask, that everyone is respectful and maintains space, but other than that, any differences probably won’t be too noticeable.”



This year’s Yampa River Festival will be an in-person event. (File photo/Katie Berning)

Capacity will be capped at 500 spectators, but while the event grows larger each year, Marlow does not foresee an issue with this. And while there will be a reduced number of vendors, there will still be river-related items as well as local food and drinks for sale.

Marlow said about 40 participants have already registered online for the various events. People can register in person, and they are encouraged to do so beforehand to reduce crowds at the registration table on the day of the event. The cost to register in person will be $20 rather than the $10 it costs to register online.



The return of the river festival this summer will be exciting to many locals — participants and spectators alike — after last summer’s virtual event.

If you go

What: Yampa River Festival

When: 6 p.m. Friday, June 4, Fish Creek Kayak Race and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 5

Where: Various locations including Fetcher Park and Charlie’s Hole; check website for specific event times and location at https://friendsoftheyampa.com/yampa-river-festival-details-2021/.

“Last year we did the event over the entire month of June,” Marlow explained. “We had 12 different challenges for people to do and then send in pictures. It turned out well, and we had over 130 participants. It was much needed during COVID, but we’re really excited to be back in person this year.”

While the goal of the event is to raise awareness for the Yampa River, it’s also a point of community gathering and celebrating the river.

“It’s really turned into a celebration of the river and what it means to the community,” Marlow said. “It brings all the people who love the river together and introduces the fun and recreation to visitors as well. We use the event to teach people about our organization and ask for donations or encourage people to become members. It’s really turned into a must-attend event for locals in the past few years.”

People gather along the banks and in rafts during the 2019 Yampa River Festival. (File photo/Katie Berning)

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