‘So much community spirit’ at the 26th Canyon Raft Company race in Fernie

Rafters in the 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022, heading for the finish line at the West Fernie Bridge. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)Rafters in the 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022, heading for the finish line at the West Fernie Bridge. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)
Blair Craig, co-owner of Canyon Raft Company, at the 26th Fernie raft race on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)Blair Craig, co-owner of Canyon Raft Company, at the 26th Fernie raft race on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)
Members of the ‘Fernie Shenanigans’ team in the 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022. From left: Jake Hartle, Warren Nash, Hayden Spendiff, Meagan Monteiro, Gabriella Vojtila, Olivia Wojcieszynski, Leah Pengelly, Taylor Jenkin. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)Members of the ‘Fernie Shenanigans’ team in the 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022. From left: Jake Hartle, Warren Nash, Hayden Spendiff, Meagan Monteiro, Gabriella Vojtila, Olivia Wojcieszynski, Leah Pengelly, Taylor Jenkin. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)
Teams cheered as their names were called out by Blair Craig at the beginning of the 26th Canyon Raft Company race event on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)Teams cheered as their names were called out by Blair Craig at the beginning of the 26th Canyon Raft Company race event on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)
Nineteen raft teams approached the Leo T Nimsick bridge like a fleet as they headed for the race start line during the 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)Nineteen raft teams approached the Leo T Nimsick bridge like a fleet as they headed for the race start line during the 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)
Packs of fans cheered on raft racers on the West Fernie Bridge during 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)Packs of fans cheered on raft racers on the West Fernie Bridge during 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)
Packs of fans cheered on raft racers on the Elk River banks during 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)Packs of fans cheered on raft racers on the Elk River banks during 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)
Raft racers finished off the 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022 at the Dogwood Park boat launch. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)Raft racers finished off the 26th Canyon Raft Company race on June 22, 2022 at the Dogwood Park boat launch. (Joshua Fischlin/The Free Press)

Spirits were high at the 26th annual raft race in Fernie on Wednesday (June 22) evening.

It was the first race back at full strength following the pandemic, according to Blair Craig, co-owner of Canyon Raft Company, which puts on the event.“It’s probably one of the largest we’ve ever had,” he said.

The event took a year off in 2020 and ran a limited version in 2021 with under 50 people, but in 2022, there were about 160 eager rafters in the water.

“It was a great success.”

Dressed in colourful costumes, the 19 teams raced from the Leo T Nimsick bridge through to the the West Fernie Bridge along the Elk River, beating uncooperative weather, and keeping a gaggle of eager spectators entertained along the way.

The winning team was ‘Mow, Snow and Row’, with their guide Spencer Robertson saying the race was an exciting one.

“It was such a blast. So much community spirit, I love it,” he said. This was Robertson’s first time volunteering as a guide for the race. “I love supporting the community,” he said.

Awards were given out for first place, best costume (ERA team) for their ‘freshwater formal’ attire, family award (Never a Plaid Day on the River) and the royal sportsman award (Fun with Flags).

The race was a fundraiser for the Elk River Alliance’s (ERA) Elk River Discovery Camp for youth, with funds raised through participant registration.

Craig said the ERA is their favourite organization to donate race proceeds because of the work they did to preserve the river.

READ MORE: ‘Big fun’: Canyon Raft Company’s raft race coming up on June 22

READ MORE: After 26 years, Fernie’s Canyon Raft Company going strong


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josh.fischlin@thefreepress.ca

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