5 and 10K races, climbing classes, fireworks, live music, hiking, rafting and more on agenda
By Chris Hendrickson, Valley News
Skyfest, held in Index every summer, is set to kick off on Thursday, July 4, and will wrap up on Sunday, July 7. The festival incorporates all aspects of outdoor recreation, mixing it with a multitude of educational opportunities, contests, entertainment, all with an emphasis on conservation.
“Skyfest is a four-day outdoor festival that focuses on conservation, recreation and education of the Wild Sky Wilderness and the Skykomish River corridor while promoting recreational longevity in the area,” states the Skyfest press release.
The family-friendly festival features plenty of activities suitable for moms, dads and kids alike. Throughout the four-day weekend there will be treasure hunts, a slack-line set up in the park, hay rides, guided nature walks specifically for families with kids, fishing, arts and crafts, rafting and gold panning.
For the more experienced river adventurers, there will be plenty of opportunities to get wet. Skyfest embraces the opportunity to get people out on the wild Sky River for exciting whitewater action. Racing begins on Saturday, July 6, and includes long boat, short boat, raft and canoe races. Racing registration fees are $20 and a complete event schedule can be found at skyfest.org.
Taught by University of Washington professors and other community educators, free clinics are planned in a wide variety of topics. Classes on outdoor cooking, geology, fly fishing, conservation and hydrology will be scheduled throughout the weekend.
If climbing is your outdoor activity of choice there will be climbing competitions and clinics offered in a variety of skill levels. For beginners, a free clinic will be offered on basic crack climbing technique along with a class on traditional gear placement.
Climbing clinics on self-rescue, aid climbing and big wall technique are available for more experienced climbers, and require a tuition fee. For information on specific course pricing, please visit skyfest.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plenty of activities are available for folks who like their recreation to be on the milder side. Hiking courses such as Practical Navigation for Hikers and Lowa Outdoor Awareness Hike will both be offered and require a tuition fee.
Other clinics and activities requiring various tuition rates include mushroom picking, horseback trail riding and mountain biking. All pricing information can be found at skyfest.org.
Saturday evening will offer video of the day’s activities, a beer garden, live music and dinner.
Conservation efforts will include mountain bike trail maintenance, river cleanup and adopt-a-crag, which is a stewardship program developed by Access Fund, one of the Skyfest partners. The Access Fund is a national advocacy organization that keeps United States climbing areas open and preserves the climbing environment. Adopt-a-crag events usually focus on litter control, trail maintenance, erosion control and the removal of invasive weeds.
This year’s festival will feature the first ever Skyfest 5 and 10 kilometer fun run and free kids’ dash. The well-marked course will wind through the scenic town and will include several aid stations fully stocked with water, sports drinks and snacks. Registration for the fun runs can be done online, the price ranging from $25 – $35 depending on how far you want to run.
Skyfest is brought to you through a partnership with the Outdoor Adventure Center and the University Kayak Club at the University of Washington.
“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,” states the Skyfest website.
Other event partners include; American Whitewater, Access Fund, Washington Climbers Coalition, the Mountaineers, American Alpine Institute, Trioba Adventure Racing and Evergreen Mt. Bike Alliance.
To register, get more information about Skyfest or to find out about lodging and camping in the area, please visit www.skyfest.org. The River House will be used as headquarters during the event. The River House is located at 444 Avenue A in Index. All activities will take place in Index, unless otherwise specified.