Time to hit the river! — Auburn River Festival kicks off this Saturday

Celebrate the American River at the Free 2018 Auburn River Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Auburn’s Whitewater Park on the North Fork American River. The festival will bring expert whitewater paddlers from throughout the region to compete in a variety of river events.

Downriver Races from No Hands Bridge to the Auburn Whitewater Park will take place from 10 a.m. to noon; Slalom Races, an Olympic event where paddlers must pass through gates hung across the river, from noon to 3 p.m.; and a Whitewater Rodeo competition, where paddlers use the river waves to perform river ballet tricks including somersaults, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. An awards ceremony will follow.

The events will feature competition classes for inflatable and hardshell kayaks, canoes, standup paddle boards and more for men, women and juniors (16 years of age and under) at all skill levels.

The Auburn Whitewater Park is located downstream from the North Fork/Middle Fork American River Confluence at the site of the former Auburn Dam foundation. The festival celebrates ten years since the river was restored to its natural channel at the Auburn Dam site and the Whitewater Park was opened to the public.

For this special event, access to the Auburn Whitewater Park will be made available to the public via a road that extends from the Olmstead Loop Trailhead behind the Fire Station in Cool, California (7250 Saint Florian Ct., Cool, Calif.), all the way to the river. Follow the signs to the Auburn River Festival and yield to hikers, bikers and equestrians who also use the road and intersecting trails. There will be plenty of parking available at the festival site.

In addition to the whitewater events, festival fun will include live music, food trucks, vendors, a silent auction and community group information booths with fun activities for kids. Bring a lawn chair, water, sunscreen and hat. You may bring picnics and alcoholic beverages, but no glass containers. Dogs on leash are welcome.

The festival is a free community event open to all to come and enjoy. The Auburn State Recreation Area $10 per vehicle day use fee will be collected. The California State Parks Annual Poppy Pass can be used to cover the day use fee.

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