Bringing back old traditions with Skyfest
Along with celebrating the river opportunities, Outdoor Adventures, and the University of Washington Kayak Club formed a synergistic relationship to invite partnerships with area residents, businesses, schools, clubs, and organizations to create an event that would draw participants and spectators to the Snohomish County recreational corridor to experience what we call Mild-to-Wild events and festivities.
As early as the 1980’s river and nature enthusiasts created a festival in Index, Washington to celebrate what they named the Sky Festival. River enthusiasts, rafters, kayakers, and residents of the area put together a local river festival that was centered around the love and wonders of the Skykomish River. This event attracted over 600 participants and spectators in the river events located between Skykomish, WA and Gold Bar, WA.
In 2003, to recognize and celebrate the vision of the Wild Sky Wilderness, the festival was renamed the Wild Sky Festival which also was centered around river events, incorporating education and environmental issues of the area. In 2008 the Wild Sky Wilderness was approved by Congress as one of the nation’s newest Wild and Scenic Wilderness Areas, securing the future of the river, mountains, and watershed for future generations. During this time Outdoor Adventures worked with original proponents, nationally-recognized associations such as American Whitewater, and Washington paddle clubs to rejuvenate the festival into a celebration of the Wild Sky Wilderness and the unique features of the Skykomish Watershed. The vision and goals for the Wild Sky Festival were to incorporate all of the outdoor activities that are unique and special to this geographical area.
The weekend began, Friday July 5th, with conservation work on the river and along the index wall early friday morning. The river clean up crew prepared the put in spot for the downriver races that would be happening saturday and sunday. The second group did work on a trail serving the (main) Lower Town Wall. It was great to have people of all ages willing to put in such hard work for the betterment of the surrounding Index and Skykomish community. To thank the folks who were willing come out and work hard, Outdoor Adventures, took the volunteers on a refreshing and much deserved north fork rafting trip. This great day and beginning to Skyfest ended with, local musician Sean Horse (a.k.a Rib), preforming in the river house while locals and visitors enjoyed dinner and drinks. This performance was only a preview of how the next two evening would come to an end.
Throughout the weekend were all kinds of free recreation clinics including fly fishing, outdoor cooking, river boarding, as well as nature walks, scattered through out the day. Just outside the river house were booths featuring education, recreation and conservation enthusiasts. contour paddle boards, People for Bikes, just to name a few. The Skykomish river was full of competitors Saturday and Sunday for downriver races in addition to slalom kayak races.
Washington university student, Janelle Deane, did an amazing job collecting and organizing prizes for the raffle held on Sunday July 7th.
– Bringing together index community
Hopes for the future