River Fest 2006

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The 1.5 million dollar white water park located right in the heart of downtown reno was designed for tubing, rafting, canoes... and this weekend: kayaking.

Joe Gabrielli, with the local Patagonia store, says this year is proving the Reno River Fest is quite a success.
"It's gotten a lot more respect around the whole white water community. And, I think it's one of the biggest events because it's right in the middle of Downtown Reno. We have a lot more spectators and it brings people from all over."

Tourism officials are expecting the visitor totals to exceed 20-thousand people.. . quite a feet for an event that just began 3 years ago.

But, even the athletes competing say Reno is becoming more well-known among the professional circuit.
Anders Carlson, from Colorado, says he competes every week and Reno is getting a lot of attention.
"It's huge. People are coming from all over. It's just been a lot of fun to meet new people and get to compete against the best in the world. You saw Eric Jackson take it yesterday, a world champion. I'm going to be paddling with him in 30 minutes, so I have my work cut out for me."

Jon Fairchild is a local paddler, and owns Different Strokes Kayaking.
He says this is exactly what the area needs.
"It's just getting bigger and bigger every year. A good gage, out of state people, even the professionals who are on a circuit around the country, they all love it. They think it's one of the best venues."

The park is rated class-2 or 3 for difficulty, but as everyone learned this weekend, the cold temperatures and swift current added another element to the competition.

Bill Gentry is with the Reno Fire Department Water Entry Team.
Several members have been roaming the water and the festival this weekend to make sure the fun continues.
"It's really catching people off guard because it's warm, it is inviting to go in the river, but that's why I wear all this ridiculous looking gear."

About a dozen members of the Reno Fire department water entry team were on site throughout the weekend, in case an athlete or brave spectator had difficulty in the water.
They say no serious incidents were reported.