Steamboat Springs The 22nd annual Yampa River Festival had the most participants in its history this weekend, following much anticipation surrounding the event.
River boating enthusiasts haven't had much to choose from in Colorado after a record-low snowpack and low spring moisture caused an early-season drought.
Now nearly all of the state's rivers are trickling at time when they are usually raging.
The Yampa River in Steamboat Springs was running at 520 cubic feet per second (CFS) around noon Sunday, way below its average of 2,269 CFS for this time of the year, according to the United States Geological Survey.
However, word apparently got around to some river enthusiasts about the new man-made hydraulic feature.
The result was close to 150 paddlers who entered into competitions over the weekend, 90 alone in Saturday's rodeo freestyle event. Officials estimated that it was the largest Yampa River Festival in history.
"It's the biggest by far," co-organizer Peter VanDeCarr said.
However, sheer numbers doesn't exactly indicate that the event was successful, VanDeCarr pointed out, reflecting the laid-back approach organizers and participants have toward the festival.
"The only way I gauge success is by the number of people who had fun," he said.
Fifty people helped organize this year's event, one of the largest crews ever.
VanDeCarr said he had a good time over the weekend and he thinks most other people did too.
Teenagers David Thiede, Justin Dittman, Goenn Dalgoeish and Alex Dalgoeish came to Steamboat from McCall, Idaho as part of the town's boating club called the Disco and Kayak Club. While preparing for the slalom race on Sunday, everyone in the crew agreed the festival was well worth the trip.
"You can just go all out and have fun. It doesn't matter what place you come in," Thiede said.
The club will kayak on the Elk River today and move on to Salida this week.
Longmont residents Nate and Brenda Lord said the festival is fun every year.
"It's because (the organizers) have the right attitude. Having fun is the first priority," Nate said.
Compared to other river festivals in the state, Nate said Yampa River Festival is good because it's connected to the community of Steamboat Springs.
VanDeCarr said it was the community that helped make the event go so smoothly.
"The town really rallied in support of it," he said.
From offering the prizes to supplying community officers, lots of elements within the community contributed to the Yampa River Festival's success, VanDeCarr said.