The BP oil spill was a popular theme at this year’s Hooligan Race, a perennially popular feature of the Annual New Belgium Brewing FIBArk Whitewater Festival. It seemed as though at least one float in each heat of five Hooligan heats played off the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which has captured the world’s attention as it grows in impact toward becoming the worst man-caused environmental disaster in US history.
Unlike the the real BP tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico, this Hooligan interpretation of a flaming BP oil rig, shown above, extinguished itself in mere minutes. Thrilling spectators at the beginning of the course, the float pretty much disintigrated before it reached the main spectator zone where crowds lined both banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Salida for the perennially popular event. Nearly each heat of this year’s Hooligan race featured a BP disaster-themed float.The 62nd Annual New Belgium FIBArk Whitewater Festival, held June 17 – 20, is this small Colorado mountain town’s biggest annual event and one of the state’s oldest continuously held annual festivals. FIBArk, which stands for First in Boating the Arkansas, is the country’s oldest whitewater festival. It has expanded beyond downriver kayak races to include freestyle kayaks, rafts, stand up paddle boards and land-based events such as running and bike races plus free music in the bandshell in the town’s Riverside Park.