RiverCraft Builders, Junk Competitors, and River Racers WANTED!

The Junk of the Unc team or individual that builds a rivercraft with the best use of recycled or repurposed materials will win a Via Ferrata trip from Mountain Trip on June 24! This special prize of a Private Guided Trip on the Ouray or Telluride Via Ferrata for 4 people is valued at $836!

Other Junk of the Unc competitors will win handcrafted awards by Ridgway artist Joanne Taplin, donated by Canyon Bridge. Plus, they will be awarded with a great time and the adoration of many!

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership is once again looking for brave souls to enter the Junk of the Unc homemade rivercraft competition and river races on SUPs, kayaks (hardshell and inflatable), rafts (packrafts are perfect!), and canoes. The racers are invited to the Ridgway RiverFest on Saturday, June 24 to navigate the stretch of the Uncompahgre River between Ridgway and the Ridgway State Park. While the big river race goes from Rollans Park to the reservoir, the Junk of the Unc course is just a short stretch near Rollans Park.

You don’t have to win to have a great time in these casual, community competitions. As 2022 Junk of the Unc participant Amanda Gabrielson explained, “It was sooo fun!!! My craft failed miserably (& hilariously) and my knees got all bruised from hanging on, but it was very much worth it!”

Amanda’s craft was made of old five-gallon water jugs that couldn’t be reused at Montrose Water Factory. She also used an old kid’s sled and a paddle she made in 1995 for use during the Ocean to Ocean Cayuco Race in Panama. She named the craft: “F/V Let’s get Radical” (F/V stands for Floating Vessel).

Read more about Amanda’s building and racing strategy to get inspired to create your own craft.

What was your inspiration for your Junk?

Having fun! and an old plastic sled my boss wanted to get rid of. 

Please tell me about the design.

Well, I procrastinated and ended up not having the time to put it together how I had originally wanted. Instead of the sled nestled between the water jugs I ended up putting it on top of them. (Which proved to be an absolute hilarious fail!) I used five-gallon water jugs that were no longer suitable for potable water reuse, the sled my boss was throwing out and some worn out cam straps my boyfriend had. 

How long did it take to build?

About 30 minutes.

How much did you spend on supplies?


Did you do a practice run on the river before RiverFest?

Nope! Probably should have, though! 

Had you floated on the Uncompahgre River before?

Yes, paddleboarding & tubing.

What was your racing technique?

Hold on for dear life! 

Do you plan to compete in the Junk of the Unc in 2023?

I really hope the timing works out that I’ll be able to!!! 

Do you have advice for anyone who might consider building and racing a Junk of the Unc?

Just put together whatever it is you have in mind! (But give yourself some extra time.) No matter the outcome, the event and race is super fun and you’ll be sure to have a great time!

If you’re not a builder, but you love to get on rivers, please bring your regular boat or standup paddle board for the river races. You could win a handcrafted award, but you will definitely get a RiverFest hat and a festival drink for your efforts!

The annual Rubber Ducky Race is also planned with a $250 cash prize donated by Black Hills Energy! However, we are watching the flows to make sure we can capture all duckies at the end of the race. If flows are too unmanageable and a proper net is not found, the Rubber Ducky Race may be cancelled. Stay tuned.

More details: https://ridgwayriverfest.org/events/river-races/.
Questions? Email Tanya at tanya@uncompahgrewatershed.org.

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