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It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years since Bob Jones and a class at Western State College (now Western Colorado University) created the first Gunnison Whitewater Festival, which would later morph into the Gunnison River Festival. That first festival included downriver raft floats and races, kayak demonstrations and clinics, biking and climbing events, live music, vendors and much more.

The 2022 Gunnison River Festival Board of Directors are just beginning to plan for the three-day 20th Anniversary of the Gunnison River Festival, and wanted to be sure folks are adding the dates to their calendars now. 

“With the cancellation in 2020 and a scaled back festival in 2021 both due to Covid, we are more than ready and excited to have a full-blown festival with three days of events to celebrate its 20th anniversary,” said Joellen Fonken, director of the Gunnison River Festival. 

Joellen said a full schedule of programming will be released in the Spring of 2022 but that she anticipates rafting, kayaking, a foot race and educational clinics throughout our watershed. Watch the  festival’s website at for updates.

The Title Sponsor of the festival continues to be the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the festival can submit their contact information via email to the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District at or may call the District at (970)641-6065. 

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