excerpt from: The Call of the River | Performance Video
The Salida races have an amazing history, stretching back to the first FIBARK back in 1949. Through the 1950s the people of the sleepy town of Salida Colorado, knew they had a unique resource in the Arkansas River. The twenty five mile stretch on the edge of town was perfect for a demanding downriver race. City leaders were keen on the value of importing European paddlers to generate interest, and sell real estate, so they started inviting European competitors, paying them $300 to make the trip!
Their strategy worked. People came in droves to see the events. The town provided enthusiastic support to welcome the sport... meals for thousands of spectators, and a train to transport them.... all to support world class whitewater.
Interviews in the film includes Erich Siedel, Roger Paris, and Laurence Campden- all paddlers who competed in the 1950s. Footage includes Bob Ehrman, the top American contender of the early 50's in his huge kayak and swim fins... used to swim his boat to shore after a flip!