Rollin’ on the river in Glenwood |

Rollin’ on the river in Glenwood

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” If there’s one summer day when locals can collectively let down their hair, it’s gotta be Yagatta Regatta. For the last six years, it’s become tradition for costumed folks to come together and cruise down the river in one, colorful mass.

But why?

“It’s the alcohol,” answered Dede Hofmann, almost laughing.

Before anyone gets riled up ” she was joking. While the Regatta has always had a drinking-friendly vibe, the flotilla and summer fair is fast becoming quite the family affair. This year, alongside the gourmet beer tents and food booths, will be children’s games and even a juggler (Glenwood’s own Jammin’ Jim). From all accounts, Saturday’s shindig is all about feeling good ” responsibly.

“What we’re trying to do is build a family event that people want to come to year after year,” explained Scott King, who organized the half dozen bands showing up.

The groups range from bluegrass to progressive rock, all appropriate for youngsters and oldsters alike.

Like event organizer Bob Johnson, King stressed that the day is “geared toward honoring our military personnel.” Complete with a presentation by the Color guard, the festival’s reverence toward servicemen and women promises to be evident. After all, this is Operation Vacation’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

For those not in the know, Glenwood-based non-profit gives soldiers and their families free vacations. While rafters do not pay to raft down the river, there is a charge to enter the celebration area. All proceeds will go toward keeping Operation afloat.

But even with its heavy importance, the Regatta still looks to be a lighthearted party.

“It’s just a fun time,” explained Johnson. “Come out and have good time.”

You don’t have to tell Hofmann, a Regatta veteran, twice. For the last few years, she’s been on one of the most prominent rafts, full of women who consistently win the costume contest. Last year, you might remember them as the “Seven Menopausal Dwarves.” With names like Weepy, Bloated and Forgetful, the ladies easily shocked their way into first place. Past years’ themes include a “Popemobile” (with the women dressed as nuns) ” and who could forget the time they were all little boys, hanging around a Michael Jackson look-alike?

“It’s kind of a freedom,” said Hofmann. “It’s kind of fun to get together and enjoy the day.”

And though you’d never know it, she’s actually petrified of the water. Yet there’s something about the Regatta, about being around women she’s so close with that brings her out of that fear.

“It’s just us, being together on the river,” she said.

While the Regatta might not break Deana Hermanson through a phobia, it certainly prompts her to do stuff she might not otherwise. Thanks to the float, this mother of two has transformed into a pirate and a hillbilly over the years. This time around, she’ll be a one of many 70’s-style basketball players, complete with “afros and everything.”

To her, this day is about coming together as a community ” whatever that takes.

“If it means dressing up like fools ” yeah, we do it,” she joked.

It’s just that kind of feisty energy that MC Micah Ball likes at the celebration. While he talked about his deep appreciation of Operation, what really draws him to the festival is the water.

“I think the river is underdeveloped and undervalued here,” he said.

To him, the Regatta is just the vehicle to change all that. Recently, he’s heard rumors that people from all over the state might be coming for the day to check out of the new white water park. A relative newbie to the “river rat” crowd, he seemed completely awake to the water’s “draw.”

“The river is…” he drifted, looking for the words. “I love it.”

Regardless of whether Regatta attendees are there for the water, the music or the brews, he said, one thing is for sure.

“Everyone’s just having a damn good time.”

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

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