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North Fork Championship Draws Pro Kayakers, Whitewater Rec Fans

Continuing through Saturday, June 8

by

Mike Leeds

Outdoor enthusiasts have long revered the frothing rapids that make up sections of the North Fork of the Payette River. Each spring, the melting snows from Idaho's mountains turn the river into a whitewater playland. Kayakers from across the country will test their mettle against the river—and each other—in the second annual North Fork Championship.

From Thursday, June 6, to Saturday, June 8, competitors gather in Crouch to compete for glory and a $4,500 purse. Admission to watch the action is free to the public and so are the sights and sounds of river riders being pummeled. The first kayakers hit the river Thursday, June 6, at 11 a.m. Races continue daily through Saturday, ending with the Elite race Saturday, June 8, at high noon, when the best of the best compete for first place.

After the competition, the Elite Division hosts a "stoke float" downriver to Banks, and any kayaker who feels comfy on the North Fork is free to join the aquatic parade. It's a way to unwind after a hard weekend of just watching the pros have all the fun.

For those who need to do a little armchair kayaking, competition organizers have added a night of celebration in Boise. On Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre, the public can check out the Melt Awards, showcasing photographs of kayaking daredevils braving the white foam. The public will then be able to vote for their favorite images. Tickets cost $12 in advance or $13 at the door.