Thank you for the fun of the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival!
After a two-year hiatus, the 2021 Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival is on the books, and what an event it was! It was a year of firsts: the very first time that a Whitewater night was cut short – thanks to torrential downpours and massive lightning; the first time we included the Great Escape Trail event; and the first time the event has drawn record crowds with just one full day of celebration.
During the busiest time of year, we took another break as a community to celebrate the beauty, fun and vitality that Royal Gorge and the Arkansas River add to our community. They are unique and special, and we are fortunate to have them. They provide our community with fantastic outdoor recreation, historical and educational adventures and activities unmatched in other parts of the country. Of course, they also attract visitors to our community and boost the tourism economy we rely on so much. Whitewater also honors and recognizes those who years ago dedicated their time, passions, ideas, effort and money to create the safe, beautiful and recreational facilities we enjoy today, and the businesses that attract visitors from across the country to our fun community that helps drive our economy. This is what the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival is all about, and why it must continue… and it will.
Today, I honor and recognize everyone who came together this year to host the most successful whitewater event ever … even with the Friday night storms. This event simply cannot happen every year without dedicated planners, committed financial sponsors, over 100 volunteers, vendors, groups, hundreds of competitors and event attendees, and of course all of you, our community, who came to celebrate with us.
First of all, I would like to recognize the Royal Gorge River Initiative Organization (RG-RIO), the Fremont Community Foundation and the Greater Cañon City Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the three organizations that have come together to organize this event. All profits from the Whitewater Canal flow back to our community through these three vital organizations. For my co-chairs Dawn Schmittel and Chris Moffett, you are both hardcore rock stars. Your knowledge of the event, your passion, your ideas, your sense of urgency, your global perspective and your dedication really helped guide the planning and running of this event. We are staying the course together. To the rest of the Whitewater Planning Committee – Kris Webb, Sheri Trahern, Karl Wurzbach, Misty Barnes, Dan Brown, Warren Hart, Ashlee Sack, Autumn Dever, Emmy Dennehy, Carla Braddy – we started late because of COVID issues, but you have fired, let’s go! Congratulations! Now take the time to breathe.
Special thanks to Travis Payne, Ashlee Sack and Keith Buswell for creating the very first Royal Gorge Great Escape Trail event. You have added a new dimension to Whitewater and recognition to another great asset of our community – the beautiful trail systems that we and visitors all enjoy. What a great addition to Whitewater!
To all of the Whitewater Festival sponsors, you provide the financial support to make this event possible each year and in return deserve the support of our community. Without you, this event would only be a skeleton of what it is today.
The Grand Cañon City Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc.
Fremont Community Foundation
RG-RIO (Royal Gorge River Initiative Organization)
Canon Signature Mortgage
Eagle Rock Colorado (Budweiser)
Coming Home Realty with Carla Braddy
The place of my brothers
Cañon City / Shopper Daily Record
Place de l’Auto de la Ville
St. Thomas More Hospital
Black Hills Energy
Bruce and Susie Bell
FCTC (Fremont County Tourism Board)
Bank of the High Country
Howard Cannon Rental
Providence-The Reed Agency
Pueblo Bank & Trust
Bridge and park of the royal gorges
Whitewater Bar & Grill
Cellar at the Abbey of Sainte-Croix
Engineering of the 3 rocks
Arcane Medical Spa
Atencio Glass – Rick & Keri Richardson
Keller Williams Real Estate
Lynn Barske – Building Ideas General Contractors
Mose Public House
Royal Gorge Route Railway
Matthews Brothers Electric
Rocky Mountain Rafts
To all of our over 100 volunteers who are so essential to the success of an event, you face thousands of people, unpredictable situations and stresses, limited knowledge of procedures and protocol, and yet you have passed the greatest white water of all time. We cannot thank you enough for stepping up and supporting this event and your community in the many ways you do. Each year presents new challenges, and as we grow I am sure we will see more. However, the more involved you are, the more we will continue to have fun and successful events in our community. Thank you for everything you do under unpredictable circumstances!
I would also like to recognize and thank a few other key people who helped make the event run smoothly. Drew Frady, thank you for your time and expertise in booking and scheduling groups. I really appreciated not having to think about it, and you have booked some excellent programming. Dave Lambert, I don’t think we would have prepared the park without you. Each year you give more of yourself than ever before, so thank you for all of your support and hard work in getting the park ready. Jesse Young and the Cañon City City Parks Team, you are always there anytime we need all kinds of odds and ends during setup and event. Need something? Call Jesse, and there he is with his crew! DD Group Security, your integral part of the administration of the event and your knowledge of the event and your involvement are essential! We cannot express this enough. AMR and Fremont Search and Rescue, it’s heartwarming to know that you are tuned in to the radio and ready to act. It’s great to have you in our community and to recognize how important you are. Kyle Horne, you stepped in during a chaotic time to call our river events and did a fantastic job. Thank you for being the voice of the river this year. You have wit, knowledge of river events and the ability to engage crowds is admirable and well appreciated. Cañon City Police Department, thank you for being involved and being in and being a part of our community. It’s really good to see Blue interacting with us and our community. Keep up the good work.
And finally you, Cañon City and Fremont County! Everyone involved loves this community; that’s why we do what we do. Thanks for coming and celebrating with us! It really is a fun and welcoming community and with this event we celebrate and honor you, and we will do it again next year with more boats, groups, bikes and beer!
See you later!
President, Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival