[click "Play" to hear Deidra Krois on the Festival]
The town is famous – or infamous – as the location for several movies, including “How the West Was Won,” and one of actor John Wayne’s late great movies, “True Grit,” (1969), in which Wayne stars as Rooster Cogburn. The True Grit Cafe is filled with John Wayne memorabilia, but as far as we know, no drunken, one-eyed federal marshals.
Ridgway boasts an abundance of wildlife: mountain lions, badgers, deer, elk, bears, coyotes, and bald eagles are indigenous to the area. And a river runs through it.
The Uncompaghre is a great source for trout fishing and this weekend, the focus of Ridgway’s second annual River Festival. The Mosaic Community Project, a local nonprofit dedicated to sustainable living practices, environmental awareness, and the arts, organized the FREE watershed celebration,11 a.m – 9 p.m., downtown, in and around Rollans Park.
For those interested in the history, geology and ecology of the river, as well as the Ridgway Uncompahgre Restoration Project, the Ridgway River Festival begins with a pre-event educational site walk along the Uncompahgre River with Bill Couglin of Western Stream Works. Meet at 10 a.m. on the west side of the pedestrian bridge in Rollans Park.
The Ridgway River Festival features a Whitewater rodeo and five different races, with racing vessels,(a hard shell kayak longer than 13 feet), inflatable water craft, (requires a two-chambered inflatable vessel), kayaks, and home-made craft competing. In addition, staff from Jagged Edge and Telluride Kayak School are on hand all day to answer questions and sign up participants for free roll clinics at the reservoir.
(Participants are invited register before the Festival by downloading the River Event Form online at www.ridgwayriverfestival.org. Contestants are encouraged to bring their ACA – American Canoe Association – card with them to receive a discount on registration fees. And shuttle service is provided for contestants in the down river race.)
A Watershed Education tent offers initiatives to protect and restore our local waterways, The silent auction (under the same tent) is to benefit service projects along the Uncompahgre river corridor.
At the Kids Eddy, activities include free crafts, face-painting and solar snacks. At the Exhibit Station, Andy Goldsworthy wannabes can partner with Mother Nature to create photo-worthy art projects of their own. Duck races and lemonade from Alex’s Lemonade Stand top off the fun and games.
The live music featured all day at the Ridgway River Festival is eclectic: Bruce Hayes has a sweet sound that weaves together blues, bluegrass, Celtic, world beat, folk, rock and jazz. Fall Baby’s soulful sound is a mix of reggae, pop, folk, rock, and original music. Norwood-based Mountain Mystic plays classic reggae favorites and released original material.
Food is provided by Gypsy’s Crepe Cart, plus tamales and fresh gazpacho and brews by New Belgium Brewery.
To learn more, click the “play” button and listen to event organizer Deidra Krois’s podcast.