America’s oldest whitewater festival, FIBArk (First in Boating the Arkansas) began with a bet in 1949.
‘Eighteen years ago, the race was conceived. It came about in an unpublicized, undramatic fashion. Two merchants, drinking coffee (because it was too cold that February day to do anything else) challenged each other to a canoe race from Salida to Canon City through the famous Royal Gorge. The race would cover 56 miles. Word of the challenge spread and more people became interested. A parade and festival were organized. Two swiss boys heard of the race while in this country running other rivers. Their boats were small folding boats. They announced they wanted to enter the competition. Of the 23 entrants in the race that year (1949) only the Swiss boys reached the finish line. (The coffee drinkers didn’t run.)’
link here to information from the Mittellander Kanu Club about the Ris/Romer win of 1949.
Link here for more information from FIBArk’s official site.
FIBark 1949 — the year it began. Articles from The Salida Daily-Mail Record.
Arkansas River Rough Water Race — 1949
This video is available for checkout on DVD at the Salida Library. It includes dubbed commentary, not heard in video below.
Downriver Race newsreel footage — 1951