After taking a year off because of the pandemic, it's more than time to go down to the river for the big festival.

This year, the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival will kick off at 4 p.m. July 23 with a beer garden, food, merchandise, vendors and much more in Centennial Park.

Other activities include demonstrations and exhibition in the Cañon City Whitewater Park on a mile stretch of the Arkansas River in Cañon City.

Once featured at the Holy Smoke Barbecue, the Hot Diggity Weenie Dog Race will return to the festival between 3 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday in front of the Main Stage area, which is a huge crowd pleaser.

What would a whitewater festival be without competitions and fun in the cool water? This year, the Community Raft Race auction will start at 5:15 p.m., followed by a Greater Cañon City Floatie Rodeo. In conjunction, numerous whitewater events will be on tap Saturday, including surfing competition, rafting sprints, rafting slaloms, kayak races and the Raft Race at 6:15 p.m.

Those who enjoy music will not be disappointed when Citizen Jones takes center stage at 4 p.m. on the River Stage followed by Kelli Said at 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 23 on the Main Stage. The next morning, the fun will continue with numerous vendors, demonstrations and exhibitions along with Saturday's lineup of music. The entertainment starts at noon with the Texas Creek Panic, followed by Frady Catz at 2 p.m. Six Bucks and a Flight will perform on the River Stage, starting at 4 p.m. Saturday. On the main stage, Adam Ashley will perform his own brand of music at 6 p.m., followed by Rockslide until the festival closes.

In the meantime, it's always fun to see what competitors come up when they bring their Build Your Own Boat at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. It's also exciting to watch some of them fall apart in the swift river while others are sturdy enough to make their way through the rapids.

Another addition this year are several land events, including 5K and 10K trail run along with several mountain bike rides.

Admission is $5 for adults. No fee for participants will be charged.

For a complete schedule, check the website at ww30