Rio Fest’s 2nd annual kayak races are Saturday, Oct. 15th. Race organizers waived entry fees this year for Mexican paddlers in recognition of the turmoil they travel through to arrive at the safe zone that is the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Los Dos Laredos. Codefront is hosting Mexico’s paddlers in the Pueblito of Colombia at the Colombia Bridge. Professional and recreational paddlers from Mexico, the USA and beyond will launch their boats Saturday morning on the Rio Grande west of Laredo, and from the opposing bank of the Rio Bravo.
The historic river with two names is home to two races: a 33-mile competition known as Laredos RioFest, pitting competitors in a hard fought race for their share of $30,000 in prize money, www.LaredosRioFest.com and an 8-mile community kayak race sponsored by the Big River Foundation with a $250 prize donated to the winner’s favorite cause. Paddlers in the 8-mile community kayak race arrive at the same finish line prior to the pro paddlers completing the long course, beginning at Father McNaboe Park. Sign-in will be 10am. Registration is $30 and this includes a kayak/gear and tee-shirt. Register at the Rio Grande Plaza, via email, Steve@BigRiverFoundation.org, or by calling Eric Ellman at 956-209-1879.
RioFest features several boat divisions to accommodate racers of all levels and ages. First-time competitors, repeat recreational paddlers and serious racers will enjoy the challenge and camaraderie on the river. The finish line is at Los Dos Laredos Park near Bridge #1 where exhibitors, food, drinks, music and special events will bring the community together to celebrate on both banks of the river. There will be a farmer’s market, kids fun run, an attempt to break the bubble blowing record coordinated by Rotary. Rhythms On the Rio is a free concert with live music 7pm to midnight, sponsored by Laredo Main Street and Budweiser, featuring Factura 22, Banda Revolution, and Umano Ache.
The shared goals of the Laredo Hotel and Motel Association, Laredos RioFest Organizational Committee, the Big River Foundation, the twin cities of Los Dos Laredos, and the Texas Canoe and Kayak Racing Association is to promote kayak-canoe racing and awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo through fair competition between international athletes over a marked course. Hurricane Alex caused the professional race to be cancelled last year. Big River’s Executive Director Eric Ellman is excited to see new Nuevo Laredo Mayor Benjamin Galvan preparing a site for the celebration at the finish line, “putting the ‘dos’ in Laredos”, he added.
This year the City of Laredo proclaimed October “Month of the Rio” with dozens of river-themed events all month long, which began with Dia del Rio. Help us celebrate our river this Saturday… life in this desert would not exist without it!