Our first festival with REAL carnival rides. The kind where you’re more afraid of the ride falling apart, than the actual ride itself—the best kind! We arrived in Salida, Colo., walked down the main street (F Street), and arrived in Riverside Park, home of FiBark Festival, the Nation’s oldest (& boldest) whitewater festival. You can get your thrills on the Ferris wheel, on the water, or by trying your luck at consuming potato chip nachos.
FiBark celebrates the headwaters of the Arkansas River with all kinds of river sports and shenanigans. The festival starts out with boater cross time trials, freestyle kayaking, and an intense run/climb up the baby mountain that shadows Riverside Park in the mornings. Participants start on F Street and sprint toward the hill next to the park labeled with a big “S”. They have to scramble up and down the hill, then back to F Street to claim bragging rights for the year. Spectators watch from below as a hundred tiny ants stumble over each other up and down the hillside. The day is filled with races and awards, cheering on competetors, and general meriment along the river. The night ends with free tunes in the park.
The fun continues with a pancake breakfast and mimosas and bloody maries in the park. The river gets crowded as SUPers and boaters race along the banks and spectators cheer them on. Grab a funnel cake, sit down by the river, and enjoy the show. Once the sun glides overhead, the music ramps up and the Eddyline brews start flowing.
We had the good luck to set the Elevation Outdoors tent up right by the river, with a great view of all the competitions and a cool breeze as icing on top. We ran a raffle right as the crowds were showing up for the main event of the festival, the Hooligan Race. Boaters are challenged with making their own crafts (no real boats allowed!) to run the portion of the river right by the festival. With homemade floats, they brave the rapids and attempt to jump out of their “boats” to grab money strategically hung above the biggest rapid. In between the crafts crashing down the river, bikers rode down a huge ramp and launched into the river right below the large rapid. With two announcers joking over the speaker system throughout the whole event, the main race of FiBark was highly entertaining.
Between the kindness of the other vendors, the unique main street so close to the festival, and a Ferris wheel, FiBark was a pleasant and entertaining festival. We’re excited to come back to Salida for some trial building later in the summer!
Our next festival is right down the road in Cañon City. The Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival, in Centennial Park, promises whitewater, adventure races, and WEENIE DOG RACES. Join us for some music, drinks, paddling, and weenie dogs.
If you like the gear we’re reppin’, or what we’re wearing, check out some of the sponsors that make this tour possible: La Sportiva, Crazy Creek, National Geographic, RovR Products, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, LifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine.