Hey, Spike! brings back some Water Toy Festival fun (column)
Today, an event like the long-gone Water Toy Festival would be dominated by the latest craze in water-borne fun — those SUP-ers.
Back in the mid-’80s and for a few more years, it was windsurfing/sailboarders that attracted folks to our high mountain lakes such as Dillon Reservoir and farther down the Blue River, it was Green Mountain.
The sports prefer contrasting conditions: stand-up paddlers hope for calm (though some daredevils like rapid river flows); sailboarders want that wind to blow. Both activities take skill development and add to the summer offerings around here.
Foonman Productions, a core group of beach enthusiasts from the Copper Mountain Ski Patrol, coupled with ongoing support from the ski industry hard- and soft-goods reps, shop-owners, entrepreneurs, food and beverage folks, made the whole show happen.
Down at the Cow Creek Campground on Green Mountain Reservoir, with a multi-day government-issued permit in hand, Larry Schmidt as the ringmaster, decked out in those Leisure Suits insiders dubbed “Larrywear,” coordinated the Water Toy Festivals in late July early August for 10 years.
The underlining financial strategy back then: any monies made would go to the purchase of a Foonman Retirement Home. This many years later, the concept has serious merit.
In addition to Larry and Pat McLeod, the Water Toy Festival inception was brought to life by the “floaters board,” comprised of Bruce “LaRue the Duke” Livoni, Mickey Johnston and CJ Julin.
“Our passion was to bring the beach to the High Country for all water enthusiasts to enjoy,” recalls Larry. “The WFT introduced thousands to inland beaches and the toys that accompanied the waterfronts.”
At the time Larry was “repping” a line of sailboards, doing demos throughout three states and saw the need to introduce sailboarding to the local waters in the High Country.
From there the Floaters Board added many other fun-loving H2O-based samplings to a weekend-long event held annually at Green Mountain Reservoir.
LaRue and “Al (Arms) the Kiddies’ Pal” incorporated walk-in movies for night time entertainment to all the campers’ delight. With the lack of wind many “flat water” toys joined the weekenders such as some of the first stand-up paddling, walk-on water floaties, paddle board races, and Jet Skis.
“We found ‘The Duke,’ our T-shirt guru, most creative when it came to thinking outside the box,” says Larry. “After a 10-year run and no Foonman retirement home in sight, the group went on to other thrills.”
A large contributing cast of floaters included: Todd “Toddiesan” and Rika Moore, Bruce “Popeye” Cochran and Pam McCain, The Guenthers, Jack and Lynn Renard, Steve Smith, Dicky Burns, that Emrick Clan, Very Sound Productions’ Duffy Wilson, Bob Winsett and Sam Parker; Kevin Smith, Schultz Greenberg, Chip Alt, Dave, Wade and Chad Hitchcock; Dede Dighero, Paul Warner, Tom Prentiss, Eddie Kaupas, Mikey and Betsy Cuthbertson, Doc Watson, Allen Arms, Michelle Henry, Dean Jones, Paul Greco, Dave Balerude, Mike and Joelle Dorsey, Gary Dorsey, Tina Hutting, Susie Magrino, Mike Klysa, Bobby Kato, Bobby Starekow, Mollie McCarthy, Trish Nicholson, Jill Chipman, Roger Kliegerman, Gary Gay, Saint, Yogi Hebron, Eli Robertson, Joe Decker, Bill Rode, Dave Ingram, Alice and Andy Hayes, Shawn Flannigan, Barney Wheelan, Mikey Meindl, Brian McCarthy, KK and Steve Skulski, Bruce McClintock, JB Besterfeldt, Nancy Cook, Mo and Trish Dixon, and Dave Evers.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to email@example.com
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