Courtney smiles

The "Flying Kiwi" Kerin Courtney of New Zealand furiously paddles back into scoring position during one of her 60-second runs in the CKS Kayak Rodeo, which this year also doubled as the U.S. qualifiers for the Freestyle Kayak World Championships in Sort, Spain next month.

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start of the summer season in Buena Vista, beginning with CKS PaddleFest, although this year’s PaddleFest isn’t so traditional.

The river sports celebration will be going virtual this year, hosting film screenings throughout the weekend on its website and Facebook pages.

The weekend begins Thursday, May 21, with its Women’s Adventure Tour film screenings from 4-8 p.m., by elevateHER, Buena Vista’s favorite non-profit (as voted by Times readers) and PaddleFest’s prime beneficiary.

Friday’s content includes kayaking instruction from the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center, a look at Colorado whitewater parks, river surfing with Mike Harvey and stand-up paddleboard manufacturer Badfish, and part one of a three-part virtual tour of the Elevation Beer Company facility in Poncha Springs, guided by brewer Alan Stevens.

PaddleFest will also host a Q&A with Darcy Gaetcher about her memoir “Amazon Woman,” which chronicles her 148-day journey kayaking the entirety of the world’s largest river, becoming the first known woman to do so.

At 6 p.m. Friday, PaddleFest will host a virtual relief concert for Chaffee County creatives called Chaffee for Chaffee.

Saturday brings the outside indoors with a “virtual vertical run” with categories based on the elevation profiles of Collegiate Peaks Fourteeners and a virtual Yucca Classic Disc Golf Challenge.

Later in the day, PaddleFest will host conversations with members of American Whitewater on protecting the Arkansas River and with athletes from Jackson Kayak, as well as “This Land,” a short film about public lands conservation.

Sunday closes the virtual festival with Famagogo’s European Paddling Van Tour and the final segment of the Elevation Beer Co. Tour.

The full schedule can be found at at at PaddleFest’s Facebook page.

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