On the first Saturday of June for the last 14 years, whitewater lovers have rushed to the town of Riggins to run the rapids at the Bigwater Blowout River Festival. The tradition continues Saturday, June 2, starting at 9 a.m. in Riggins City Park.
The event kicks off with a dozen local outfitters showcasing the best of the Salmon River. Guides will offer short raft trips throughout the day for all ages, with discounts of up to 50 percent.
"We're introducing people to high water in a safe way," said Amy Sinclair, who owns and runs Exodus Wilderness Adventures with her family and sits on the festival's volunteer committee.
The outfitters provide all the gear needed to participate, including wetsuits and life jackets.
After the last raft returns at 4 p.m., the Dutch Oven Cook-Off Contest begins. Individuals and outfitters can make appetizers, entrees or desserts--last year's winner prepared salmon-stuffed morel mushrooms wrapped in bacon.
After the judging at 7 p.m., anyone can sample the food for $5.
"Last year, we fed 150 to 200 people with sample plates," Sinclair said. "It doesn't cease to amaze me what people can make in those things."
The aptly named band Current Flow from Coeur d'Alene will play bluegrass and reggae throughout the evening, and representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and Idaho Rivers United will visit the event, providing education on how rivers can remain healthy and beautiful.
Sinclair said the river festival is important in encouraging people to "continue to be river stewards." She hopes the festival will show people the value of keeping beaches clean and maintaining the river ecosystem.