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River awareness float filled with superheroes

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Photo by Jim Brett Daniel Roman and Bekah Scalero celebrate their costume contest win with a victory melon.

Many a superhero were spotted at the Western Slope Conservation Center's Float Fest on the morning of June 3. The festival's superhero theme celebrated the organization's 40 years of dedication to watershed stewardship, public lands advocacy, and environmental education in Delta County and beyond, as well as the vast community support making these efforts possible. "This was our biggest one yet!" exclaimed festival coordinator Morgan Rubanow of WSCC's largest annual fundraiser.

In particular, the festival highlighted the flow toward expanded public access to the North Fork of the Gunnison River after many years without. That morning, the normally placid Paonia River Park was awash in activity. Captains rigged and demonstrated proper safety techniques in preparation for Western Slope Conservation Center's 17th annual River Awareness Float. With 2,000 cubic feet per second of water flowing down the North Fork, 30 river-worthy vessels put in at the Paonia River Park public boat ramp. Over 170 rafters paddled to the future site of the new public boat ramp at the Delta County Fairgrounds in Hotchkiss.

Following the float, rafters joined community members at the Paonia River Park for a sunny afternoon festival. Musical acts Mojo and Eclectic Alchemy played for the crowds while festival goers enjoyed lunch from Delicious Orchards and refreshments from Revolution Brewing, Palisade Brewing and more. Local vendors shared their wares, including upstarts such as Western Slope Stand Up Paddleboards of Hotchkiss and paddle-cord maker Carson Roithmayr of Delta. The festival also featured the return of the crowd favorite Fruit Toss and a superhero costume contest, with prizes donated by Cabela's and Chaco.

Thanks to donations from many local vendors, the Float Fest silent auction brought $3,600 in donations to the Western Slope Conservation Center. Hot ticket items included gift cards to local wineries and restaurants, guided raft and stand up paddle board trips, and boating gear including dry bags, a lightweight fire pan, and more.

WSCC would like to send a big thank you to all the superheroes who sponsored, donated, supported, and participated in the 17th annual Float Fest!

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North Fork
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Hotchkiss, river float
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