Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival happening in Cañon City this week

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CAÑON CITY, Colo. — One of the biggest parties of the summer returns Friday and Saturday, July 23-24, in Cañon City.

Organizers with the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival are back this year and expect at least 10-thousand people to attend the two-day event.

The Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival is full of activities and competitions that anyone can participate in.

It costs $5 to get in and all proceeds from the event go to non-profits in Cañon City. These include the Fremont Count Chamber of Commerce, Royal Gorge River Initiative Organization, and Fremont County Foundation.

“This whitewater festival was originally started to gain funding for the whitewater park through town,” said Chris Moffett, event coordinator for the festival. “Twelve years ago, this was a completely different looking stretch of water. This festival represents the change in the river over time that we’re seeing here.”

The event is now centered around Centennial Park, a community hub sitting along the riverwalk and a big part of the festival’s history. The festival is celebrating Cañon City’s river development and promoting an outdoor lifestyle.

Some of the activities you can look forward to include a floatie rodeo, rafting races, SUP parade, and much more along the Arkansas River. There’s also a series of land-based events, including mountain biking and hiking activities.

“You can bring your own floating devices,” Moffett said. “We also provide a boat, a paddle, jacket, helmet. And then Fremont County Search and Rescue mans the riverbanks and we do little races through town. And the winner gets a cash prize.”

If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, there’s a music line-up both days and plenty of events for you to kick back and watch.

“We’ll have all our national teams out here doing a race through the gorge,” Moffett said. “They do a sprint, a slalom race and then a head to head where they race around buoys. It’s really exciting and raft racing is a growing sport.”

One crowd favorite returning this year is the “build your own boat race.” Several community groups and organizations plan to join in. One of the teams is representing the Fremont County Humane Society and hopes to take home the win for their shelter pets.

“Animal medical fund for our cats and dogs,” said Crystal Pemberton, with the Humane Society. “Right now, we’re budgeting for our 70-thousand dollars for just medical expenses alone for our animals. It’s one of our largest expenses outside of payroll. So any money we earn will go to that.”

For the festival’s schedule of events, click here.

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