The third annual Golden Mountain Festival will take place from May 20-22.

The third annual Golden Mountain Festival will take place from May 20-22.

Timely Mountain Fest to celebrate rivers and wetlands

With spring headlines revolving around the region's rivers, this year's Mountain Festival theme couldn't have been planned any better.

Much of the headlines this spring have revolved around our rivers. From the issues faced by the rafting industry with access to the Lower Canyon portion of the Kicking Horse River, to the controversy surrounding restrictions on motor boats in the Upper Columbia, local waterways have dominated the discussion around town.

It’s timely, then, that the third edition of the Golden Mountain Festival should revolve around our rivers and wetlands. It’s a decision that was made months ago, long before this spring’s issues, but it’s clear that our waterways remain an important part of the local culture.

“You can go back to when they were using it as a mode of transportation with steamships, before the railway really took over coming through here…they were highways back in the day,” said Andy Brown, communications and social media coordinator with Tourism Golden.

And the timeliness of the theme is not lost on Brown or Tourism Golden.

“It really brought to light how important rafting is for our community when it comes to tourism and putting Golden on the map in the summer,” he said.

The 2016 edition of the festival, taking place from May 20-22, will feature a host of events, from a rivers and wetlands exhibit at the Art Gallery of Golden by Claire Dibble, to a presentation from explorer/writer/photographer Bruce Kirkby at the Civic Centre.

Also among the highlights of this year’s festival will be a Friday night concert and film festival, featuring the musical talents of Carolyn Mark, Geoff Berner and Kris Demeanor and short films submitted by locals that celebrate our wetlands and rivers.

“It will have the top three videos that were submitted as a showcase of local and regional talent and filmmaking with a focus on the rivers and wetlands,” Brown said.

Finally, a river battle on the Kicking Horse will cap the third edition of the fest, beginning and ending in Spirit Square as participants paddle downriver before running with their boats back to the square for the finish.

Last year’s festival, which featured a presentation by renowned adventurer Will Gadd, saw a 34 per cent increase in attendance from the previous year’s showcase event. Tourism Golden hopes that a combination of word of mouth, local and regional advertising and a diverse schedule of events will help the 2016 edition of the festival continue to build on last year’s momentum.

“We want this festival to turn into a staple in the community where every May long weekend people know that the Golden Mountain Festival will be here and people want to come to it because it’s an event that gets people out and enjoying the mountains,” Brown said.

As with last year’s festival, a scavenger hunt will take place throughout the three days, with participants tasked with completing punch cards by visiting a variety of local businesses. All who complete the card will be entered into the draw for the grand prize.

For a complete schedule and ticketing information, visit the Golden Mountain Festival’s official website at goldenfest.ca.