“Boats, Bands, Beers” (the official slogan) is what one expects at the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival, but this year’s Fest, held June 26 & 27 in Canon City, CO was so much more than that.  The DBP crew arrived as guests and paid the $5 entry fee (which is so dirt cheap! Definitely our style!) We headed to the registration tent in hopes of participating in some of the awesome events that were taking place. Aaron (DBP Admin Aaron Erdrich, a regular competitor in raft racing) wanted to compete in the R2 race after kicking butt at FIBArk the weekend before. There was also a raft rodeo that was right up his alley. Cash prizes were offered for all the winners. Perfect, because we were basically broke. He lost the races…..but came in 2nd in the rodeo. 

Aaron’s Earnings. Def Dirtbag! Hahah, “Dirty Bag Paddlers!” 

We asked if there would be an auction or raffle that DBP could contribute gear to. The staff members kindly accepted a DBP t-shirt and a BIG NASTY WALLACE flatbrim, and directed us to Kyle, the festival director. He was excited to hear who we were and asked what we would like in exchange for the items. We threw a curve ball. A booth? We asked. Without hesitation he walked us over to a spot next to the other booths and asked if that spot worked. Absolutely it did! We were so excited, like little kids in a candy shop. “This could be big!” we thought.

The Royal Gorge Festival is fairly new. This year was the 7th annual event, and all proceeds go into funding the next year’s festivities, as well as continued development of the local whitewater park, river restoration, and local charitable causes, which is really awesome. So we set up our tent and laid out our stuff and started the meet an’ greet. We talked to so many people. Folks loved what we are all about and how passionate we are about paddling. The local river community was truly so welcoming and friendly. The Festival allowed us to camp at our booth, which is perfect when you’re Dirtbaggin’. The food was great and reasonably priced, and the vendors had awesome products for everyone. It felt like a true boater’s party. 

The festival ran Friday, Saturday, and ended on Sunday. Saturday night’s entertainment was highlighted by The Tent Show Kings. They were a terrific band! They got the crowd all fired up to be there! Everyone was dancing, smiling, and absolutely loving life. The drummer was throwing his drum sticks, T-Shirts, and the lead singer trusted us enough to crowd surf him. I danced my life away that night, one of the best nights of my life. The Royal Gorge Whitewater Festvial was one of the most welcoming I’ve ever been to. Speaking for DBP we all had a blast and are very thankful for our spot. We are looking forward to next year, because WE WILL BE BACK FOR MORE! 

Official Website
RGWF Facebook page

Leadville Cherokee performing at this year’s fest
scenes from the 2013 festival

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