Yampa River Fest returns with new event | SteamboatToday.com

Yampa River Fest returns with new event

Austin Colbert
France's Mathieu Dumoulin takes a sharp turn during a trick at Charlie's Hole for the Yampa River Festival's freestyle kayak competition Saturday night.
Ben Ingersoll

— As the only new event at this year’s Yampa River Festival, which takes place Friday and Saturday in Steamboat Springs, Tube Rodeo promises to bring a little extra havoc than previous years.

“Watching carnage, basically. Watching people flip their rafts,” said Charlie Preston-Townsend, the festival’s lead organizer and vice president of the board for Friends of Yampa. “Basically, it means any brave soul willing to try their luck in Charlie’s Hole at the library … it’s more just for pleasing the crowd.”

Tube Rodeo, which gives participants a chance to conquer Charlie’s Hole via a raft or tube, will be one of the final events on Saturday. In its 35th year, the festival raises awareness for Friends of the Yampa, a local non-profit dedicated to the preservation of the 270-mile Yampa River.

Festivities kick off Friday with a gear swap at Backdoor Sports, 841 Yampa St., followed by the Fish Creek Kayak Race at 5:30 p.m. The bulk of the events take place Saturday, starting with a 9 a.m., 5-kilometer foot race at Little Toots Park.

“It continues on with a bunch of different events, including a slalom race, downriver races on both rafts, kayaks, standup paddleboards,” Preston-Townsend said. “Along with the food and the beer, there will be a number of other non-profits and information tents and that kind of stuff. I try to encourage the more the merrier for a festive atmosphere.”

Beer — donated by Butcherknife Brewery — along with food vendors will be available all day Saturday at Charlie’s Hole, near the Bud Werner Memorial Library. Following the 5K race, action will move to Rich Weiss Park for the Kayak Slalom Race and then to Fetcher Pond from noon to 3:30 p.m.

Beginning at 3:30, the final events will take place at Charlie’s Hole, beginning with the Crazy River Dog Contest. Kayak Cross and Tube Rodeo both start at 4 p.m., with the 5 p.m. Kayak Freestyle Contest ending the activities.

An after party will be held at Schmiggity’s Live Music Dance Bar at 7 p.m.

Also returning this year is the Standup Paddleboarding Cup, a series of three events with a $750 purse on the line. It includes a timed sprint at 12:15 p.m. at Fetcher Pond, a downriver race from Fetcher Pond to Charlie’s Hole and a slalom event at 3:30 p.m. at Charlie’s Hole.

“That’s a cool event. It’s new last year, and it’s been growing. This year, we expect probably twice the participants,” Preston-Townsend said of the SUP Cup. “We don’t have pre-registration. It’s all just day-of-event. So if anyone is interested, just bring their gear. Each event does cost, and we encourage them to participate in more than one event. If you are doing more than three events, you get a discount.”

Preston-Townsend’s only concern was the recent weather, which he says could keep spectators away. However, he mentioned participant numbers hold relatively steady from year to year, and the rainy trend of the last few weeks will lead to great water flow.

“We are going to have some good water for the events,” he said. “It’s pretty cold, so people prepare for cold weather if they are going to get in the water. … Hopefully Mother Nature will come through on some sun for us. I call it the premier summer kickoff event. It’s a lot of fun.”

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