Wild West River Fest

The Jackson Hole Kayak Club groups up before paddling the canyon during Wild West River Fest in Shoshone River Canyon last August.

Organizer Andy Quick said people don’t have to be in the water to enjoy the Wild West River Fest on Saturday-Sunday.

“Plan on being involved, whether it’s being in the races, spectating or coming to the party Saturday night,” he said.

Or you can do all three – or more.

Many of the festival’s daytime activities are located down the road from the Buffalo Bill Dam and Saturday’s Great Dam Day event.

Quick said the reason to check out the downriver event is it’s a fundraiser for the Wild West Paddle Club. The organization teaches people the finer points of rafting, kayaking and safety in rushing water.

As such, a major focus is a series of races in the Shoshone River through the canyon near Hayden Arch Bridge and on a stretch near Cody. 

While high water had threatened to necessitate altering the courses for safety reasons, Quick said Monday they would likely be adding gates onto the course to make it similar to last year as the water flow decreases close to normal levels.

“Now we’ll scramble to reset and go back to the lower flow,” he said. 

Those events will include a Saturday morning slalom race at 10 and canyon boatercross at 12:30 p.m.

At 6 that night the Soul Funk Collective from Billings will perform a free concert outside the Park County Complex along with food trucks and drink vendors.

There’s even the option to camp overnight on the grass.

“If you want to have fun and not drive afterward, you can do that,” Quick said.

Sunday’s events include an 11 a.m. down river race to Belfry Bridge and a noon awards ceremony, with the top honor the Conning Cup in memory of the late organizer Ed Conning. While Quick said his memorial service last year brought a lot of people in from out of town for the event, he hopes to see people come again this year.

“We’re hoping we can continue to build it into an event people can look forward to in Cody,” he said.

For more information visit wildwestpaddleclub.org.

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