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River festival and float in Paonia this weekend

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It is time to celebrate the North Fork of the Gunnison River at the 19th annual River Festival and float trip, hosted by the Western Slope Conservation Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Gather at Paonia River Park on Saturday, June 1, for a day of fun, food and music.

Start off the day with an early morning guided birding walk along the river park, beginning at 7 a.m. At 9 a.m. there will be a guided labyrinth walk and meditation.

The festival begins at 1 p.m. with live music, food and drinks, educational tables, kids arts and crafts (including mural painting), games and much more. A silent auction will be conducted throughout the day, with the winners announced at 6 p.m. The party runs til 7 p.m.

Bring your own chair, settle in and enjoy an afternoon of music. Sugar Moon gets things rolling at 1 p.m., followed by Hard Pressed at 2:15 p.m. and The Bell Creek Band at 3:30. Highway 50, featuring Al Laughlin from The Samples will close out the afternoon, beginning at 4:45 p.m.

On Sunday, June 2, the more adventurous will set out to float the North Fork of the Gunnison River. The float leaves from the Paonia River Park and travels to the Delta County Fairgrounds in Hotchkiss. Participants will be shuttled back to the river park around noon.

Volunteer guides will man rafts and offer insights about the river and its importance to the region. Participants should check in by 9 a.m. and take part in the safety talk before setting off down the river.

Space is limited, and registration is required. Cost is $30. Visit westernslopeconservation.org to sign up.

Due to anticipated high river flows on the North Fork, all registered float participants must be 10 years of age or older.

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North Fork
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