Eddy Out 

The potato might be on the license plate, but for many, Idaho’s claim to fame doesn’t come in the shape of a knobby tuber. For those in the know, it’s long, twisting and really, really wet.

Idaho’s rivers are a major draw for adventure-seekers who come in the quest for whitewater. It’s why so many locals can be seen heading out of town each weekend with trailers or pickups packed with rowing frames, oars, boats and kayaks. It’s more than a hobby, it’s a state of mind and river rats know the kind of peace that can only be found in an eddy below a class IV rapid as the adrenaline rush slowly fades while the roar of the river is still in their ears.

Those who know whitewater love to celebrate it, and summer in Idaho is filled with various occasions to do just that. The weekend of June 5-7 will offer one of the first chances to honor the river gods.

First up is the Payette Boise River Revival Whitewater Festival on the South and North forks of the Payette River north of Boise.

The three-day event is an equal-opportunity sort of thing, not discriminating between kayaks and rafts. The event includes river races for kayaks, inflatable kayaks and rafts, as well as a junior freestyle and boogie board competitions.

The junior events, open to pre-teens to teens, will be held at the Gutter on the Payette near Horseshoe Bend on Friday, June 5. The young kayakers will show off their skills to be judged, while boogie boarders will play it up for crowd approval. That night whole family can party down during the disco rodeo while DJ Revolve provides the beat.

On Saturday, June 6, the South Fork of the Payette will be filled with downriver marathon racers beginning at the Canyon put-in. Also on tap are the downriver sprints on the Staircase section of the river, encompassing Bronco Billy, Staircase and Slalom, all class IV rapids.

That afternoon, check out the beach party at Banks, as well as a dinner, > raffle and concert in Crouch.

Finally, on Sunday, June 7, experts take over the river during the Kayak Extreme Race on the lower three miles of the North Fork of the Payette beginning at Upper Otters Slide put-in. Cost for competing in the kayak races is $50 per person, or $20 for the individual kayak events. Raft team entry fee is $40, but the disco night and spectating is free for all.

And don’t sweat the cash, the whole event is a fundraiser for the future river recreation park in Boise.

Weekend camping is available at River Pond Campground and other sites in the area. For more information, check out pbrkayakevent.com.

If you’re into a more condensed, one-day event, head a little further north to Riggins for the 11th annual Bigwater Blowout River Festival on Saturday, June 6. This ode to rafting includes discounted rafting trips on the Salmon River beginning at 9 a.m. launching from Riggins City Park.

In between raft trips, check out the games, vendors and music going on all day at the park, topped off with the Dutch Oven cook-off beginning at 5 p.m.

Individuals will compete for awards in the appetizer, entree and dessert categories, while outfitters will compete in their own category. Samples of the cast iron culinary creations will be sold for $5 per plate.

For more information on the Bigwater Blowout visit bigwaterblowout.com.

Keep an eye out for more river celebrations throughout the summer and plan to attend a couple. Remember; you really don’t want to piss off the river gods. >

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