17 June 2015

FIBArk 2015

FIBArk 2015...

I've talked about FIBArk before. First in Boating the Arkansas (River)
Here is last year's post:


FIBArk: It's a Party!  June 2014

FIBArk: First in Boating the Arkansas 

Today is the start of FIBArk.

What's FIBArk, you ask?

First in Boating the Arkansas (River) is the nation's oldest whitewater festival. And it's held right here in my backyard of Salida, Colorado.

From the official FIBArk website a brief history:

The FIBArk boat races started June 19, 1949 when six boats entered the Arkansas River in Salida on their treacherous 57 mile run to Canon City through the vertical cliffs of the Royal Gorge Canyon. Fueled by the spring snow pack runoff from the mountains of the Continental Divide and 5 or 6 feet above normal level, the river water ripped down the canyon creating tremendous currents and boiling rapids where the valley walls narrow and the river floor drops.

Only two boaters finished the race that year and the following year the course was shortened to 45 miles. Only one person finished the second year.  In the interest of keeping the contestants alive, the race was shortened again to 25.7 miles for the third year. It is still the longest whitewater race in the U.S..

And probably the most fun. The entire town turns out for four days + of races, parades, beer, and music. And maybe just a little pot.

Thursday evening is the Tenderfoot Hill Climb.  Remember my drive to the top of S Mountain last week? Runners start at the base of the mountain and run STRAIGHT UP, then back down again.  And they do it in less than 12 minutes. It's amazing. I get out of breath just watching. 

Runners heading STRAIGHT up to the top of Tenderfoot/S Mountain.
Photo by Matt Kroschel/The Mountain Mail

Friday starts with a Pancake Breakfast, followed by races in the river, a carnival and live music in the park.  At night there is dancing on the grass in front of the bands.

Saturday morning there are 5 and 10k running races followed by the parade down F Street. I LOVE a small town parade. Candy is thrown to the kids. There are firetrucks and police cars, the mayor and the Shriners. So much fun and it makes me feel like I am in 1950's America.

 Veterans proudly march.

People line the street for the parade down F Street.

All day long there are more water races and then at 5:30 there is the Hooligan Race. Anything that floats (and lots that don't) can "race" down the river in front of a screaming and cheering crowd. O yea- no actual boats are allowed. Most contestants end up in the water, most floats end up disintegrating. 

 River Rat

 There's a very large bridge support in the middle of the river these guys are trying to avoid.

A prison break? 
Nope, just a Hooligan float.

Then more music in the park. And dancing. The air is heavy with smoke...a contact high is possible. 
Beer and wine are served. Babies dance.  Gray haired couples dance. Teenagers dance. All are welcome. As the night goes on, the girls get prettier, the guys get more handsome, the party gets louder.  Last year we wisely took a hotel in town just so we wouldn't have to drive home with the rowdies. Don't have one this year but I figure the girls have friends in town to stay with and I won't be out late. 

Music at Riverside Park.
Not even dark and already the photos are blurry.

The actual downriver races are on Sunday. There's a river dog contest. And more music. 

By 6pm, things are wrapped up, the whole party is over. 

This year I confess to seeing it more from a local's point of view than in previous years. I went into town today and stocked up at the grocery and ran all my errands. I'm not interested in trying to fight the crowds over the next four days if I don't have to. And already I am weary  of the drivers not familiar with the canyon road that I drive every day. It's a narrow road, river on one side, mountain on the other. Each direction has one lane.  Nervous drivers tend to straddle the middle yellow line. That would work if it were a straight road, but it isn't. Not at all.  I dodged two cars today-both coming at me in my lane- on my way into town. 

Nevertheless, I am still excited for the fun to come. 

An Update:

Taylor Stack, 15 and the current owner of our baby chicks, won the Tenderfoot Hill Climb with a time of 10 minutes, 39 seconds. The second place runner came in at 11 minutes 7 seconds which means Taylor was hauling butt up and down that hill. Even more impressive, he didn't even look like he had broken a sweat doing it. Just came running across the finish line like it was a stroll in the park. Amazing. Especially when you consider he was running at an altitude of about 7000 feet. 
(And he was only 7 seconds off the all time record speed of 10 min 32 seconds set back in 2006.)


FIBArk is one of my favorite things about Salida.   Four days of partying in the middle of town. Rides, races and music.  I LOVE the music. What's not to love about people of all ages dancing in the grass next to a beautiful river under the watchful eye of a giant "S" while free, live music is playing? Seriously!

So FIBArk starts on Thursday.

I will be experiencing it from a different aspect this year because I will be working during the days.
It should be busy, don't think I will really care.    I can still go into town for the music at night and hopefully will make it into town in time to watch the run up S Mountain.   Sunday I can still watch the racers come under the bridge in my little town.

But this year the river is high. REALLY high.  For the first time since they started having it, the Hooligan Race will be cancelled.  That's a really smart move. Two rafters were lost last week in our area of the Arkansas River. An 11 year old boy and a 52 year old man.   Absolutely no reason to put a bunch of partiers in make-shift rafts on a river that dangerous.

Here's a little video of the river to give you an idea of how fast and high and WILD it is:

If by chance this video does not show up, click here.
And excuse the sideways view. Didn't look like that on my iPhone!

Basically there are trees and logs and Lord knows what else floating in the river. So if the rushing water doesn't carry you away, the debris will pull you under.

Hoping this weekend will be a fun and safe time. Best wishes to all the water participants.

I'm gonna stick with the music!

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