By: Betsy Welch
Photos: Jonathan Auerbach
Fifteen years ago, a group of avid local kayakers saw a dream come to fruition: Lyons’ own whitewater park on the Saint Vrain River. In a unique gesture, these boaters decided to say “thank you” to the community by throwing a party that would showcase this new gathering place by the water. They called it the Lyons Whitewater Festival, and its spirit lives on today as the Lyons Outdoor Games.
“Lyons Outdoor Games is unique,” says Arn Hayden, one of the original founders. “Athletes from around the world enjoy our small town feel and vibe. They feel like they are coming home to friends and have always been treated well here. Many athletes come back year after year.” The Games are a place for professional athletes to mingle with recreationalists and for out-of-towners to paddle, pedal and play with locals.
The entire event is a fundraiser for community’s parks and outdoor culture; the recipient of raised funds is the Town of Lyons Department of Parks and Recreation. The Outdoor Games has undergone enormous growth over the past four years, and this year there will be a small admission charge to the Bohn Park venue. The admission charge will act as a donation to the event’s original philanthropic intent. Lyons Outdoor Games tickets can be purchased for $10/adult and $5/child at https://www.racedirectorsolutions.com/EventRegistration/EventRegistrations/2777, or purchased on-site on June 4th.
“Lyons Outdoor Games helps the Town of Lyons - and the department - in a lot of different ways,” says Park and Recreation Director, David Cosgrove. “It brings in a lot of people who support the local restaurants and businesses, and all of the revenue that’s generated from the alcohol sales, vendors, registration fees, and various admissions fees go directly to the Parks and Recreation department.”
This year there will be a bigger-than-ever Kids Outdoor Games area, as well as the much-loved river events - the Adam Barron Memorial Creek Race, the Freestyle Rodeo, Slalom kayak and canoe races, and for the first time ever, whitewater clinics with renowned instructors. In Bohn Park, you’ll find BMX/MTB dirt jump competitions with Outlaws of Dirt, Spirit Hound Distillers’ Cornhole Tournament, slackline performances and free clinics with Slackline Industries, a disc golf course with Longs Peak Disc Golf Club, Adventure Fit’s Beer Relay, Warrior Playground – an outdoor obstacle course inspired by American Ninja Warrior, and an AcroYoga Clinic with Guy Ohm.
“Many local kids have competed in Lyons Outdoor Games and have initiated and excelled in athletic careers because of the kayaking culture in Lyons,” says Hayden. “As an example - Parks and Rec provides kayak rolling sessions during the winter at a nearby pool, and every Friday the pool is full of kids having a blast learning to roll a kayak.”
In addition to these activities, Lyons’ own Oskar Blues brewery will hold their wildly popular Burning Can beer festival on June 4, helping Games-goers stay hydrated. A portion of Burning Can proceeds will also be donated to Parks and Rec. Purchase Burning Can Festival tickets (which include admission to the Outdoor Games) at http://burningcan.com/locations/lyons-colorado.
And, since no sound epitomizes Lyons like the notes of music skipping along the banks of the St Vrain River, Lyons Outdoor Games is stoked to announce that the Dirty Dozen Brass Band - and opening acts Big Thompson Flood and Na’an Stop - will close out the day’s events in Bohn Park.
The Lyons Outdoor Games of 2016 may seem like a more grown-up version of the original Lyons Whitewater Festival, but the spirit of adventure and outreach that the kayakers with the keg of beer were celebrating in Meadow Park 15 years ago has just grown stronger over time.
“In one event we accomplish so many things,” says event director and Lyons local Rebecca Louzan with Onda Creative. “We get our community outside at the beginning of summer, we provide inspiring adventure for kids, we groom young, local athletes, we expose our crowds to extreme sports like whitewater, BMX, and slackline, we provide Zero Waste awareness, we produce a under-the-stars concert with talented local and national touring acts… and at the end of the day each attendee can great about their well-spent dollars because it contributes to this impactful fundraiser for our town’s parks and outdoors culture.”
Lyons Outdoor Games, June 3-4, 2016
A fundraiser for the Lyons Department of Parks and Recreation
Advance tickets: $10/adult, $5/child
The Lyons Outdoor Games is a Town of Lyons-owned event, produced by Onda Creative www.ondacreative.com