Up a Creek

What started as a simple pre-kayak-season sale eight years ago has since become a massive river festival that marks the official start of paddle weather. “Paddlefest is a lot different than most river festivals in which you go and watch people compete,” says Earl Richmond, general manager of Colorado Kayak Supply, which hosts the event. “This is one where you can interact and rub elbows with the pros and get advice. You can learn to kayak or brush up your skills if you’ve already learned.”

In addition to classes and free demos, the fest attracts all of the major gear manufacturers to its massive sale, and people who want to unload their old stuff can sell it direct to the public. After you’ve had enough time in the water, you can watch the best paddlers in the country compete in the evenings in the BV Pro Rodeo. There’s also free music and movie premieres, and “lots of food and beer and fun stuff for kids to do, too,” Richmond says.

Paddlefest is the one time when you can walk into a store and all the boat designers and pros of the industry are working directly with the customers,” he adds. “It’s a great weekend to come and try it out, or, if you’re already in the sport, a great place to come and improve your skills. And if you just want to hang out for a fun social weekend on the river, we’ve got that going, too.”

The fest runs today through Sunday; the sale continues through Monday. Colorado Kayak Supply is in Buena Vista, just a few blocks from the Arkansas River, at 327 East Main Street. For details, go to www.ckspaddlefest.com. Contact the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center at www.rmoc.com or 1-800-255-5784 to sign up for courses.
May 22-24, 2009

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Jessica Centers