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River Running Season

A river runs through it


Snowmelt runoff is gushing its way down between the banks of Idaho's rivers, making for some of the best whitewater in the Northwest, and there are plenty of opportunities to watch some of the folks willing to take it on.

The third North Fork Championship (see Picks, Page 20) kicks off Thursday, June 12, at the Egyptian Theatre with The Melt Awards, a whitewater film and photo festival with submissions from local artists as well as some of the biggest names whitewater photography, and viewers get to vote of their favorites throughout the evening.

The NFC races take place on the Payette River, with a qualifier race on Thursday, June 12 and another race Friday, June 13, and the main race takes place Saturday, June 14, down Jacob's Ladder and Golf Course--both continuous Class V-plus rapids beginning near mile marker 86. This race down non-stop whitewater requires the paddlers to hit five gates, old-fashioned slalom kayak style.

The following weekend, the second annual Payette River Games take over Kelly's Whitewater Park in Cascade, 40 miles upstream from the NFC. The games run Friday, June 20-Sunday, June 22, giving world-class kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders a chance to compete for one of the largest purses in river games history. Paddlers can partake in boater-cross and freestyle events, for a purse of $50,000, while SUPers will vie for a chunk of $10,000 $50,000.

The PRG goes beyond kayaking and paddling by sponsored athletes: Anyone can compete in the other events including fishing, a dog-fetch competition, disc golf, beach volleyball, bocce ball, horseshoes and more. Last year, the inaugural PRG drew a crowd of around 14,000 spectators.

In news of man-made whitewater, the Boise River Park will hold a visibility event Monday, June 23 following the PRG. Pro paddlers and surfers will showcase the whitewater park near Quinn's Pond from 6-8 p.m. Friends of the Park, a volunteer fundraising group, needs to raise $6 million to start the second phase of the whitewater park, which includes adding two more wave features.

NFC, RPG and the BRP event are free for spectators--check upcoming issues of Boise Weekly for in-depth coverage of these events.

For those folks who enjoy water sports from the bank, Idaho Fish and Game's annual Free Fishing Day is Saturday, June 14, across the state. Free Fishing Day is a chance to try fishing--or maybe introduce a young person to it--without having to purchase a license. In Boise, volunteers will be at McDevitt Pond (8 a.m.-noon) and Parkcenter Pond (10 a.m.-2 p.m.), and in Nampa, at Lake Lowell-Gotts Point (10 a.m.-3 p.m.) and Wilson Ponds (8 a.m.-noon).