Steamboat Springs Fat Eddy's Threadworks and Paddler Magazine have joined forces with Friends of the Yampa to bring a professional whitewater rodeo to Steamboat Springs.
Board members of Friends of the Yampa have agreed to allow the whitewater rodeo to kick off the annual Yampa River Festival. The whitewater rodeo will be held Tuesday, while the festival gets under way on June 8.
"This is the first year we've done a stand-alone event," John Cardillo, co-owner of Fat Eddy's, said of Tuesday's whitewater rodeo.
Cardillo said he wanted to bring professional kayakers to Steamboat Springs as an added bonus to the festival, which features amateur and professional kayakers.
"The dates of the Yampa River Festival conflict with a rodeo in Durango," Cardillo said. For the rodeo to attract pro kayakers, Cardillo said changing the dates would make the Fat City Showdown feasible.
Cardillo expects about 30 to 40 professional kayakers will take part in the rodeo, along with 20 to 30 kayakers who are good enough to compete with the pros. Although the event will not exclude anyone from entering, Cardillo said it is designed for those who are of professional caliber.
Judging will be based on style and difficulty of the rodeo or surfing maneuvers.
Friends of the Yampa has voiced concerns about allowing the professional event. But board members agreed to allow the event with one stipulation Fat Eddy's and Paddler Magazine cannot receive profits from the rodeo.
Instead, proceeds from Tuesday's event will go to the "Lower River Improvement Project" of the Yampa River.
"We never wanted to make money from it. It's a good promotional event for us as a business," Cardillo said. "We're not going to make a penny."
The Lower River Improvement Project is a city endeavor that would add kayaking features to the river between the 13th Street bridge and the Stockbridge Transit turnaround.
Mike Newmann, Parks and Recreation Open Spaces supervisor, said the improvement project will place rock vanes, or structures, and boulders into the river in order to create recirculating waves or holes for kayakers.
"The kayak features will basically be a line of boulders all across the river that, at lower water levels, will create a play wave," Newmann said, adding that the project still depends on securing funding.
Basin Hydrology created the proposed river modifications with an emphasis on minimizing the environmental impact on the river. Work began in April, but has been halted because the river level is too high, Newmann said.
Newmann said there is concern about how much money the city has budgeted for such a project. While the Fat City Showdown should help, Newmann said the money raised won't be enough.
If money becomes an issue, Newmann said the $150,000 project could be done by summer 2002. Of the four phases in the improvement project, the city will spend about $30,000 to $40,000 for each phase.
Phase one should continue this summer, and if budget plans go accordingly, phase two will continue next spring and summer.
Newmann said commercial use of the river will aid in building the improved river structures.
Cardillo said concerns were expressed that a pro rodeo connected with the Yampa River Festival would create an overly commercialized "circus."
"I think we've convinced people to do it the right way," Cardillo said. "We're learning as we go along as well."