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The 20th Anniversary of the Gunnison River Festival will be celebrated June 10-12, 2022.  There will be three great days of “Celebrating the Rivers” of the Upper Gunnison Basin, including the favorite Taylor Downriver Raft and Kayak races, new educational seminars, dry land and in-flow clinics, and the return of the popular whitewater events and Hooligan Race, where participants create their own rafts hoping they will float through the Gunnison Whitewater Park.

“We are so excited to be able to mark this milestone by returning to a full-fledged river festival, including some of the popular events that were held at the very first River Festival,” said Joellen Fonken, director of the Gunnison River Festival, a nonprofit organization whose title sponsor is the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District.  

Joellen noted that it’s been fun to go back through the historical records and see how the river festival has grown and evolved over the years. “We are looking forward to having Bob Jones and some of his original festival cronies involved in this year’s anniversary celebration.  All of us involved with the festival are proud and gratified to see how it has grown in numbers and served to educate so many individuals about the significance of our watershed,” said Joellen.  


In addition to a full slate of activities for the actual Gunnison River Festival, this year residents and visitors to the area also got to spruce things up to get ready for the June festival.

On Saturday, April 23rd, the UGRWCD and Gunnison River Festival partnered with the City of Gunnison and Western Colorado University to help with the Community and River Clean-Up Day.  The District would like to thank the volunteers who braved the cool, windy conditions to  help pick up trash along sections of the Gunnison River and Tomichi Creek and clean-up brush and debris along the banks. For their efforts, the volunteers were treated to a “taco for trash” compliments of the UGRWCD.  Pulled pork tacos were served by 5 B’s BBQ at Jorgensen Park to the wonderful volunteers who diligently brought back their filled trash bags.  The District hopes to team up with the City and Western again next year for the Community and River Clean-up, which takes place annually in honor of Earth Day. Hope you can join us next April!

On Thursday and Friday, June 9 and 10th, the UGRWCD will host its first annual Upper Gunnison Basin Water Roundup, a conference bringing together water experts to share their collective knowledge with each other but most importantly with the general Upper Gunnison basin community water user. The conference will include various presentations from experts in forest and watershed health, wildfire risk assessment, drought, wet meadows and riparian restoration, sage grouse habitat restoration, broader Colorado River basin issues, and the annual Colorado River District’s State of the River presentation.  The conference will be held at the I-Bar Ranch and Event Center located just 250 feet from Tomichi Creek at the base of W Mountain just east of Gunnison. Conference participants will have the opportunity to camp at the I-Bar for the conference and are encouraged to stick around the I-Bar Friday evening, June 10th for a concert by Grammy-nominated reggae pioneers, The Wailers, and traditional Jamaican food catered by Jermaines. “This concert will be a great way to wrap up the last day of the conference and the first day of the festival,” said Joellen.

For a complete schedule of Gunnison River Festival events, please visit as events and festivities are still being added to the schedule.  You can also check out the UGRWCD’s website at and our Facebook and Twitter pages for regular updates.

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