SALIDA, Colo. — In a little town known for its water, Salida's Arkansas River attracts a crowd.
"Little old Salida just keeps getting more special by the minute," said Lindsay Sutton-Stephens, the director of the FIBArk Whitewater Festival. "We call it Colorado’s worst kept secret and that is true."
FIBArk, which stands for "First In Boating on the Arkansas," is a Salida favorite and keeps growing every year.
"It is the 74th annual FIBArk Whitewater Festival. FIBArk is the oldest whitewater festival in the country. It’s a really big deal," said Sutton-Stephens. "We’re making it bigger and better than it ever has been. We all deserve it."
After 74 years on the water, people are coming to Salida for more than just the river.
"We have pro skaters all over FIBArk right now. It’s incredible. It’s cool," said Sutton-Stephens. "With the new skatepark coming in, this felt like the perfect opportunity."
The World Cup Skateboarding competition is in professional skater Derek Scott’s hometown for the first time ever.
"It’s so surreal. I mean surreal is an understatement. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid," said Scott. "You can see right here the vibes are pretty electric right now, so it’s going to be a good day."
Growing up here, Salida didn’t have a skatepark to support an international competition. So Scott helped build one.
The Heart of the Rockies Rampage is the first pro skate contest to be part of FIBArk.
"This skatepark is not even a year old and we’re already here celebrating a huge World Cup Skateboarding competition," said Scott. "To really add the skateboarding aspect to FIBArk, which is the oldest whitewater festival in Colorado, is absolutely amazing."
A town known for its water from the Arkansas River is getting attention for its big air.
"This is home you know, to have my family here to cheer me on every time I dropped in and all the hugs I have afterward, I’m so blessed," said Scott after finishing second in the competition. "I’m so emotional right now."
Next week he’s off to Prague to compete. He hopes the professional tour will stop in Salida every year going forward.
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