Animas River Days goes big

Pump up the raft, dust off the kayak and put on your best flip flops. Animas River Days is back and better than ever.

The annual celebration of all things river rolls back into town June 20-22, complete with the everpopular river parade, downriver race, and rodeo and slalom competitions. In addition, this year’s event, which has now been taken over by the Animas Riverkeepers, will take on the flavor of Animas River Days of yore, with live music, vendor and food booths, arts and crafts, kids activities, and more river fun than you can shake a paddle at.

“This is a big year for Animas River Days,” said Aaron Kimple, of the director of Animas Riverkeepers. “The city got involved and got some music for us. We’re try

ing to make it more of a family affair.”

In lieue of its summer concert “Durango Rocks,” the city has combined efforts with Animas River Days to sign on three bands for Saturday’s festivities at Santa Rita Park. The line up will include local singer-songwriter Annie Brooks, Fahrenheit 451 and Aftergrass. Kimple said organizers are still looking into the possibility of bands on Sunday as well.

In addition to the traditional events, there will also be a river clean up; pancake breakfast; and flyfishing casting and fly-tying demos. Also new this year is an “down/up/down” race whereby participants ducky down the river, run back up the river trail and finish by pushing a scooter back down the path.

Aside from the Animas Riverkeepers, various other

local organizations are getting involved as well, including Trout Unlimited, which will provide water for donations, and Durango Whitewater, which will hold a raffle.

“We’re trying to create an opportunity for folks who work on the river to generate some income for their groups,” said Kimple.

The date for the festival was moved back this year so as not to conflict with other goings on in town as well as the Teva Mountain Games, in Vail, and Fibark, which is the weekend before in Salida. “We hope since we moved the weekend we’ll get more folks,” said Kimple, who hopes to draw 3,000 people a day. “Historically, people would come from Fibark to Durango. We’re hoping to reinstate that circuit mentality.”

– Missy Votel