The 6th Annual North Fork Extreme Kayaking Championships is now in the books with comments from participants that this was one of the “wildest water” ever. The snow melt is still affecting the Payette rivers and the North Fork of the Payette is no exception this year. Many participants pulled out of the race because of the potentially dangerous waters. There were still plenty of action and participation to keep everyone on their toes. The event grows every year with a crowd count of at least 500 watching on the rocky banks of the river.
The party began in Weilmunster Park in Crouch filling up with vendors from all over the country representing brands particularly relating to the kayaking world. An exciting vibe permeated through the park, especially when the kayakers returned from their final Saturday event. They cleaned up and after relaxing with some food the crowd converged to the stage to see who would be the King of the NFC this year.
The King the NFC this year was Dane Jackson, age 23 from Tennessee, who defended his title from last year. He is also the first to be a repeat Champion. Evan Moore, age 21 from California took second place. A 32 year old Chilean, Pangal Andrade Astorga, garnered the prize for third fastest. The oldest racer was age 51 but did not make the finals. The race consist of gates that should not be missed. They go through the river features called Taffy Puller, Jacob’s Ladder, Rodeo Hole and Rock Drop. Each feature flows into another with rushing waters that make everything unpredictable.
Considered one of the toughest whitewater competitions, many come to face the challenge from all over the world. Some come from different parts of the United States and fall in love with Idaho. One racer from South Carolina explained that he had never been to Idaho before but loved the hospitality and the terrain of mountains and water. He wants to move to Idaho now.
The town of Crouch greatly benefits from the event and the Garden Valley Parks and Recreation District has generously allowed camping for only special events. In years past, the park has been left spotless after the event. The organizers announce made it known that they love Crouch as their venue for the awards. They had filled the park and some people had to go to overflow campsites. Vendors compliment Weilmunster Park as a beautiful setting as well.
Park maintenance made sure everything was mowed for the visitors. Addition of campfire rings to the park offset the evening chill. At the awards ceremony, the emcees thanked the Parks and Recreation District for the use of the park with special provisions for camping, the City of Crouch for being so welcoming, and to the Dirty Shame for their after-party. James Byrd, event organizer, was concerned that there would be ruts in the park. He said, “No one knew the ground was going to be so soft. It has never been like this in prior years.” Their group was not aware that just recently the rains and river overflow still affected the ground.
Weilmunster Park will be hosting other big events in two weeks like Music in the Park on July 1st and the 4th of July fireworks. The family friendly events and their vendors may still have to deal with the soft ground as well.
Photos/Written by Janet Juroch- BCC Staff