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Yampa River Festival takes over the waters this weekend

The Adam Mayo Memorial Fish Creek Race is set to take place on Friday, June 3, at 6 p.m. as part of the 2022 Yampa River Festival. The race pays homage to a supporter of Friends of the Yampa who died in December.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Charlie’s Hole is the place to be on Saturday, June 4, as the 42nd Annual Yampa River Festival reaps the benefits of the recent rain.

The river festival, hosted by Friends of the Yampa technically kicked off Thursday with a Jackson Kayak freestyle and demo at Charlie’s Hole behind the Bud Werner Memorial Library, and continues with the kayak race on Friday evening, but the main events are Saturday.

The 2022 river festival is a celebration of the river community and recreation, but will also serve to honor some friends that were lost over the last year.



The Adam Mayo Memorial Fish Creek Race pays homage to a longtime supporter of Friends of the Yampa who died in a kayaking accident in December.

Mayo was a board member and helped organize the river festival and the Fish Creek race, which he also participated in alongside many of his friends.



“I was particularly close to Adam Mayo,” said John St. John, Friends of the Yampa board member and frequent announcer at the event. “I miss him a lot. I miss his spirit a lot. He was very patient, very gracious and very giving to the Friends of the Yampa forever. He really was. He was a really big friend of Friends of the Yampa.”

Additionally, the popular raft race has been named after Drew Hyde, who died in an avalanche in March.

“Drew, he helped us with organizing. He wasn’t a board member, but he was very involved. His heart was in it, with all things Friends of the Yampa,” said Kent Vertrees, recreation and education coordinator for Friends of the Yampa. “The river was deep in his heart.”

Hyde’s raft will go down the river, carrying friends of Hyde as well as Vertrees, who said he has never taken part in the race. The raft helped Hyde win in the past and perhaps it’ll do so again this year.

42nd Annual Yampa River Festival Schedule

Friday, June 3

12-6 p.m. – Gear Swap at Backdoor Sports

6 p.m. – Adam Mayo Memorial Fish Creek Race

Saturday, June 4

10 a.m. – Open class downriver kayak race

10:30 a.m. – Pack raft race

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – SUP/kayak demos at Fetcher Pond

Noon – SUP downriver race

1 p.m. – Drew Hyde Raft Race

2 p.m. – Raft rodeo

2:30 p.m. – SUP cross

3:30 p.m. – Kayak cross

4 p.m. – Crazy river dog

4:30 p.m. – Tube rodeo

5:30 p.m. – Kayak rodeo

6:30 p.m. – Awards

Sunday, June 5

10 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Kayak slalom

4 p.m. State of the Yampa

“This event is always special in our hearts and it’s got more focus this year,” Vertrees said. “Our minds think to our friend Arlo, JR that is, and Mary, who was a river person also. Our river community has been impacted with the loss of four really good people and we’re going to be getting together and sharing the love for them.”

Following the raft race, which commences at 1 p.m. on Saturday, the action-packed events such as raft rodeo, crazy river dog and tube rodeo begin. Find the full schedule at FriendsOfFheYampa.com/2022-Yampa-River-Festival/

“This is the 15th annual Hog Island Tube Rodeo, the largest tube rodeo of its kind in the world,” said St. John, who owns Hog Island Boatworks. “It will reward the most extreme athlete in the valley who can surf in the C-hole better than anyone else on an inner tube.”

The 2022 Yampa River Festival will draw a crowd on Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4.
Katie Berning/Steamboat Pilot & Today archive

Recent rains have kept the Yampa flow in the ideal range ahead of the river festival. As of Thursday afternoon, the Yampa was mowing along at 1300 cubic feet per second, almost 400 cfs higher than last year.

“It’s not going to be too big and it shouldn’t be too low,” Vertrees. “We’re kind of in that sweet spot.”

On Sunday, June 5, the festivities conclude with the kayak slalom from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., then move indoors for the presentation of the State of the Yampa at the library at 4 p.m., where the movie “Craig, America” will air.


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