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Whitewater Festival draws crowds to Bigfork

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: May 24 2014 04:39:38 PM MDT
Updated On: May 24 2014 10:44:08 PM MDT
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Rising river levels aren't bad news for everyone.

In fact, organizers of this weekend's Bigfork Whitewater Festival say conditions couldn't be better.

That's saying something with the festival nearing its 40 year anniversary.

From kayaks to stand up paddle boards, the festival see's all kinds of competition, and they're traveling from all over too.

Lorenzo and Pangil Andrede Astorga are brothers who made the 16 hour flight from Chile.

They travel all over for kayaking competitions and say they love it here in the Flathead.

"It's an amazing race, it's an amazing course, the river is huge, and high.  It's pretty beautiful, pretty intense, so we're super excited to start and it's going to be amazing," they said.

Rain didn't stop any of the competitors at the competition today.  They tell us that they enjoy the rain because it makes the water levels in the river higher, and that makes for more fun out on the river.

"In my opinion I don't think the river can get too high.  I think the higher the better," said Jonathan Meyers, a former professional kayakers and an event organizer for the Bigfork Whitewater Festival.

While competitors like the rivers high, there's still a safety concern for everyone out on the water.

Officials were posted along the river watching to make sure participants were safe throughout the whole course.

Meyers knows that while the competition is fun, the event has a much greater meaning to the town of Bigfork than just kayaking.

"People are just really excited you know it just kind of kicks off the summer here on the north end of Flathead Lake.  So it's just kind of like a kick start for the summer, get people into town, and just have a fun time," Meyers said.