The Town of Ridgway, in consultation with the boating community, decided, according to Town Manager Jen Coates, to close a section of the Uncompahgre River in Rollans Park between the highway and pedestrian bridges (the first drop) late last week due to the volume of runoff and what they considered to be unsafe hydraulics.
But cooler weather has slowed the runoff, and, said Riverfest spokesperson Erika Gordon, “We’re going forward as planned. Ouray Mountain Rescue will be on hand to assess the river, but right now, it looks good.”
Festival organizer Deidra Krois said, “We were bummed because of the bad press [around the closing]. But we don’t anticipate any problems. All of the river events will go off whether or not we can use the first drop. We can start everything under the pedestrian bridge.”
The Town could decide to reopen the first drop. According to Coates, the closure was made on Friday, June 17, when the river was roaring at 1,400 cubic feet per second. “On Tuesday morning, it was running 600 cfs,” Coates reported. “We’ll have to take a look at it” as the weekend approaches.
Whatever the town’s determination, the celebration is on. Activities run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Registration for the river events begins at 9 a.m.
There will be a whitewater rodeo, down river races, the “Junk of the Unc” Race, and fun at the Kid’s Eddy.
Booths will provide regional watershed information, and there will be live music, local food vendors, and a beverage tent.
The festival stage will feature the rockin’ sounds of GiGi Love and the Hearts of Gold, and Whitewater Ramble. New Belgium Brewery, Colorado Boy Brewery, and Ourayle House will provide beverages. Food booths will include the Sunshine Traveler Solar Car Team and Damiano’s on Main.
At the Kids’ Eddy, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. kids and kids-at-heart will find a face painting tent as well as creative play and dress up with the Fun Lady. June Kirtchner (of the Ouray Library's Miss June's Kids Program) will bring supplies for children to make their own buttons, and she will entertain families with water-themed stories and crafts. Local youth will operate Alex’s Lemonade Stand, selling icy cold drinks to benefit pediatric cancer research, and fresh cookies from the solar oven. Gunnison Gorge
Anglers will run demonstrations for kids’ fly fishing and fly tying.
The Watershed Education tent will provide information on initiatives to protect and restore local waterways. A silent auction (under the same tent) will benefit service projects along the Uncompahgre river corridor.
–What kind of float is acceptable for the Junk of the Unc Race? Any homemade craft that floats is acceptable. You may use paddles. You are responsible for collecting any debris from your craft that falls apart.
–What kind of inflatable craft is acceptable for the inflatables race? Any two-chambered inflatable vessel ready for river travel is acceptable. Please no inner tubes.
–Where do I unload my crafts? All racing crafts should be unloaded on the east side of the river. Enter through the parking lot north of Ridgway Real Estate off
–Will I have to set my own shuttle at the State Park for the down river race? No, there will be a shuttle down at the State Park waiting for the contestants to bring them back.
–How can I register for the down river races? You can either print a registration form on line at www.ridgwayriverfestival.org or register the day of the event from
9-11 a.m. at the registration table. Don’t forget to bring your ACA card, PFD, and helmet!
–Does each person in a single craft have to pay a registration fee? There is one registration fee per craft, plus $5 for every non-ACA member on board.
A few things to remember: Please never leave your child unattended at the festival.
The river is swift and dangerous if you are not prepared. The Kid’s Eddy does not offer childcare.
All dogs must be on a leash and accompanied by their owner at all times; dogs may not access either side of the Uncompahgre from Rollans Park. Zero-waste stations will be available on each side of the river. Stations will be signed to ensure that all waste produced at the festival is put in its proper place.
The festival will offer FREE kayak clinics operated by the Telluride Kayak School on a first-come first-served basis. Boats and gear will be provided and all clinics will be held on Sunday, June 26. To sign up or for more information, please contact Chris Haaland at
318-0317, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the official Ridgway River Festival website at www.ridgwayriverfestival.org, or email email@example.com with any questions.
Saturday, June 25
9 -11 a.m.: Booth Set Up and River Event Registration
11:10 a.m.: Safety Briefing
11:20 a.m.: Whitewater Kayaks
11:30 a.m.: Hard Shell Kayaks
11:40 a.m.: Inflatables
Noon - 2 p.m.: GiGi Love and the Hearts of Gold