Gallatin Whitewater Festival

Attention all paddlers: the aquatic circus is back in town—so grab your boat and come on down!

That’s right, the Gallatin Whitewater Festival is back and better than ever. The 2005 “Rally for the Gally” will be the 26th festival held on this classic stretch of river and this year’s new format, both on and off the water, will undoubtedly please the paddlers, volunteers, and spectators alike. The event, hosted by the nonprofit Headwaters Paddling Association (HPA), begins on Friday, June 10th at the East Gallatin Recreation Area, featuring boat and gear demos, intro to canoe and kayaking sessions, and roll clinics with some of the area’s top paddlers. There’ll be potluck grubbin’, dog-and-burger barbecuin’, horseshoes, volleyball, and other activities to boot. Anyone interested in whitewater paddlesports and having an all-around good time is encouraged to come on down and get wet. This is an outstanding opportunity to meet or reunite with the local paddling community and to learn more about the people, the lifestyle, and the equipment that make river-running such an incredible sport.

On Saturday, June 11th, the Rally for the Gally kicks into high gear with an action-packed one-day whitewater extravaganza. That’s right, one day. Three exciting, non-traditional events, back to back, followed by a barn-burning after-party back in Bozeman, complete with a film screening, live band, free beer for festival participants, and plenty of surprises you won’t see coming. Saturday’s on-river events include a very interesting downriver race; a fun freestyle event with dynamic downriver play opportunities, hole riding, and a Big Move category that could win the whole thing; and last, but certainly not least, the infamous boatercross. This no-holds-barred battle through House Rock rapid and down through the constricted drops of the Mad Mile has always been a favorite of both participants and spectators. Heats of eight paddlers start simultaneously from the calm pool above House Rock rapid. From the crack of the starter’s pistol to the finish line there are no friends, no teams—and no rules. Boatercross is a madcap, winner-take-all aquatic stunt show requiring steady nerves and rock-solid boat control. This intense but good-humored event highlights the impressive skills of the paddlers and is a great way to round out the day’s activities on the Gallatin.

After a big day playing on the river, the Rally moves to downtown Bozeman for an evening that is sure to please. All the ingredients are there: great people, good food, live music, a slide show, big-screen footage highlighting the day’s events, free gear, and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to smash apart a custom, homemade whitewater piñata handcrafted by renowned paper-maché artist Jason Matthews.

The 2005 Gallatin Whitewater Festival is a celebration of a great river and the diverse paddling community that calls it home. The goal is to unite the old and new schools of paddling, to have a great time, and to learn more about how to protect and preserve the Gallatin and other great rivers in Montana and throughout the world. See you there.