Inaugural Payette River contests bring an outdoor sports festival to Cascade

rphillips@idahostatesman.comJune 13, 2013 

Payette River Games will give everyone and his dog a chance to compete at anything from disc golf to kayaking to ax throwing.

OK, maybe Sage the Lab might want to sit out of the ax-throwing event, but he can surely compete in the River Dog event.

The Payette River Games run Friday through Sunday, June 21-23, in Cascade. The games offer a chance for hard-core athletes and casual recreationists to compete in an event that is poised to draw thousands of people to join the summer fun.

The games are the brainchild of Kelly's Whitewater Park founder Mark Pickard, and the park will be the headquarters of the games, which hosted two national kayaking events in 2011 and 2012.

Pickard is modeling the Payette River Games after the former multisport Teva River Games in Colorado (now known as the Go Pro Mountain Games), but he's giving the Payette games an Idaho twist by adding logging contests, fly fishing, golf, disc golf and other events.

"We decided we wanted to appeal to everyone," he said.

Most of the competitions will take place on Saturday, June 22, and then those who advance to the finals will compete again Sunday.

Many competitors will compete for cash prizes, and golfers have a shot at winning a $65,000 Land Rover.

If you're not into competing and your idea of working up a sweat is letting the sun do it for you while watching others, the games are being staged with spectators in mind.

Most take place at the whitewater park or within a short walking distance of it, and there's no admission charge.

There also will be food, drinks, music and attractions for kids, such as a bouncy house.

Pickard is hoping the games will draw lots of people to enjoy the whitewater park and the community of Cascade, and that the game's reputation will spread and grow.

"The goal is to do it well this year and grow it over the next few years," Pickard said.

More details and online registration are available at Discounted early registration deadline is Tuesday, June 16, and listed prices will increase after that date.

This year's events will include:


What: The centerpiece of the Payette River Games is the kayaking competition, which will award $40,000 in prize money. The competition is actually three events -freestyle, sprint and boater cross - which will crown men's and women's overall champions.

Points will be awarded to the top 10 finishers in each event. Whoever earns the most points wins. There also will be cash prizes for the winners of each event.

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23.

Where: Kelly's Whitewater Park, Cascade.

Entry fee: $20 per event.


What: This will be another stage event with thousands of dollars in prizes. Paddlers will compete in a 1.5-mile time trial through the whitewater park. Competitors will be released one minute apart and sent downstream through the park.

The second stage will be "Kelly's SUP Cross Throwdown" when paddlers will race head-to-head through the park's rapids.

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23.

Where: Kelly's Whitewater Park, Cascade.

Entry fee: $25 per event.


What: Brilliant or weird, take your pick, but this contest puts the "free" back in freestyle. The event will have kayakers, canoeists, stand up paddlers, boogie boarders, ducky wearers, or anyone else to see who is having the most fun.

"Secret judges will be watching who has the most stoke, who is the most supportive, who has the most fun," organizers say.

Grab your watercraft of choice, dress for the occasion and let your freak flag fly.

When: Saturday, June 22.

Where: Kelly's Whitewater Park, Cascade.

Entry fee: $5.


What: Two-person raft teams will race in heats of no more than three teams going head-to-head through the park's whitewater course; the winner advances to the next round.

Rafters will have to navigate upstream and downstream gates. There's no limit on raft size, but no more than two people can paddle it.

When: Saturday, June 22.

Where: Kelly's Whitewater Park, Cascade.

Cost: $20 per raft.


What: Think you've got the fastest fetcher on land and river? Dogs and their handlers will start at a "throwing pad," and handlers will throw their dog's favorite fetching toy into the Payette River. (A minimum distance will be set.) The fastest dog to fetch its toy and return it to its handler will be the winner.

When: Saturday, June 22.

Where: North Bridge on the North Fork of the Payette upstream from Kelly's Whitewater Park.

Cost: $10.


What: Rock jocks of all skill levels will scamper upward and christen "Kelly's Competition Side-by-Side Towers," which stand 32 feet tall and feature overhanging sections, bouldering wall and warm up wall. This event also will be the first stop on the "Idaho Climbing Series."

Climbers will be split into beginner, intermediate, advanced and open classes. Cash prizes will be awarded to top competitors.

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23.

Where: Kelly's Whitewater Park, Cascade.

Cost: $50 to $60.


What: Have a fling in the mountains at Tamarack Resort's 18-hole, 4,966-foot par 3 and par 4 disc courses.

Cash prizes will be awarded to top finishers in all divisions, and there's a $5,000 prize for the first person to score a hole-in-one on the course. There will also be other contests, including closest to the pin and longest drive.

Preliminaries are on Saturday, and the top five finishers will be invited to the Sunday finals. They will tee off from the park's Rock Island, sail their disc across the river and then get ferried across the river to finish out the hole.

When: Saturday, Sunday, June 21-23.

Where: Osprey Meadows Golf Course, Tamarack Resort near Donnelly. Finals will be at Kelly's.

Entry fee: $15 amateur, $20 pro.


What: If pecs, glutes, Vo2 max and lactic acid are part of your everyday vocabulary, this could be the event for you.

The "Kelly" and "Borbonus" workouts (named after loved ones to which the whitewater park is dedicated) will test strength, stamina, endurance, power and guts.

The river-themed fitness competition combines with crossfit-style workouts that will have competitors pressing, lifting, running and pushing.

There will be three rounds with qualifying athletes advancing to the two later rounds.

The first round, "The Borbonus," will test the athletes' endurance. The top 10 athletes will move on to the second round,

"The Kelly" will challenge the athletes' stamina, strength and power. The top five athletes will move onto the final round,

"The PRG" will be a timed obstacle course in front of spectators.

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23.

Where: Cascade High School football field off Idaho 55 just north of the first bridge entering Cascade.

Cost: $20.


What: Competition will require casting flies at strategically placed wet and dry targets while the angler is standing on Kelly's bridge at the park. Casters have a maximum time of five minutes to hit the targets and the winner is whoever lands a fly in each of the targets the fastest.

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23.

Where: Kelly's Whitewater Park.

Cost: $15.


What: Participants will play 18 holes of golf on Saturday at the Osprey Meadows Golf Course at Tamarack Resort.

The final five qualifiers will advance to play a final hole at Kelly's where they will tee off from the park's Rock Island and be ferried across the river to the east shore to play the final 19th hole.

Any competitor who tees off from the black diamonds on the third hole and drops a hole-in-one will win a 2013 Land Rover LR4 valued at $65,000.

Other golfing contests will be included in this event, including longest drive, closest to the pin, first gross, and first and second net. Grand prize is 20 free rounds of golf at Tamarack.

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23.

Where: Osprey Meadows Golf Course, Tamarack Resort near Donnelly.

Cost: $65.


What: Here's a nod to Cascade's logging history. The contest is being created and hosted by local logging legend Leonard Wallace of New Meadows, whose family has been professional loggers and competed for decades in that community's annual logging competition.

Men and women will throw an ax and try to stick it into a log end. There also will be some fancy footwork during the log rolling contest.

When: Saturday, June 22.

Where: Valley County Fair Grounds in Cascade.

Cost: $10 each.


What: Dig, bump, set and spike at a newly constructed volleyball court. Meet Dave Saunders, a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Coed teams will face off in pool play to determine who advances to final rounds. All matches will have referees.

Teams can consist of up to six players with four on the court at once and a minimum of two women.

More than $1,500 in prizes will be awarded to top teams.

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23.

Where: Kelly's Whitewater Park.

Cost: $15 per person.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

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