Saint Francis River to host Missouri’s 50TH Whitewater Championships
The Missouri Whitewater Association (MWA) will be holding the 50TH Annual Missouri Whitewater
Championships over the weekend of 17-18-19 March 2017, at the Millstream Gardens Conservation Area of
the Saint Francis River near Fredericktown, MO.
The Championships continue a tradition begun in 1968, when the first Saint Francis River Whitewater
Slalom Race was held on the Silver Mines section of the river, downstream from the current location. The
2017 event will feature traditional downriver and whitewater slalom racing for canoes and kayaks, and also
includes innovations like Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) and Boatercross racing. The race is divided into
multiple categories based on paddlers’ skill, boat type, and age. Recent races at the Millstream Gardens
shut-ins have attracted competitors from ten states and hundreds of spectators. Competitors range from
beginners to seasoned veterans to the occasional Olympic level expert, and range in age from preteens
to seventies. A nominal race registration fee, as well as banquet ticket, raffle ticket, and t-shirt sales, help
support the incidentals required to put on the event.
For the 50TH Anniversary Championships, we will have a commemorative program highlighting our 50
years of whitewater racing on the Saint Francis. It will include historical information, race results, and
photos, and advertising space for our sponsors and supporters. More information about the history of
the Missouri Whitewater Championships, including a video documentary of the race, can be found at our
For more information on the 50TH Annual Missouri Whitewater Championships,
contact Race Director Dave Kovar at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Media, Sponsorship and Program Advertising information,
contact Rich Gran at: 50thMWC@missouriwhitewater.org.
The MWA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and exists to encourage the growth of paddling, teach
river safety, and educate the general public about the sport and river conservation.
50TH Annual Missouri Whitewater Championships — Race Information
History — The Meramec River Canoe Club (MRCC) originally hosted the first whitewater race held on the Saint Francis
River in March 1968, with help from the Fredericktown Chamber of Commerce and the Fredericktown Jaycees. In 1976,
after eight years, the Arnold Whitewater Association (AWA) and the Sierra Club took over the host role. In 1984, AWA
became the Missouri Whitewater Association, with a name change to acknowledge their statewide presence. Today,
the event comes together as 100 volunteers set up the race course, provide safety, judge, time, and score the racers.
The MWA receives support from the Sierra Club Eastern Missouri Group, Saint Louis Canoe and Kayak Club, and Team
River Runner. The races are held with the support of the Missouri Department of Conservation, and sanctioned by the
American Canoe Association.
Location — The 2017 MWC will be held on the Millstream Gardens shut-ins section of the Saint Francis River, near
Fredericktown, Missouri. The current location includes the largest whitewater drop on the river, known as “Big Drop”.
Depending on rainfall, the river is considered Class II-III whitewater. At higher water levels, racing will be very limited.
The Championships were moved to Millstream Gardens in 1988, after the section became a Conservation Area, at the
request of the former owner, Elmer Tiemann. The first 20 years of whitewater racing were held on the Silver Mines
section of the river, downstream from the current location. The primary whitewater feature of the Silver Mines section is
the breach in the old Silver Mines dam.
Schedule — The 50TH Championships will kickoff with the Downriver event on Friday afternoon. Paddlers will race the
clock and each other down a 21/2 mile course from Millstream Gardens to the Silver Mines Recreation Area at Highway
D Bridge, passing through the five major drops on the river. There will be live music and an award ceremony on Friday
evening at the D Bridge Pavilion, with awards going to the fastest boaters in each class.
Saturday will start with Olympic, Expert & Novice whitewater slalom classes, with Age-Group classes in the afternoon.
Spectators and photographers gather along the rocky, scenic banks of Millstream Gardens to watch the trained boaters
compete on the Whitewater Slalom race course. Racers are judged on both precision and speed as they navigate
15–20 numbered gates through the rapids in the boulder-strewn riverbed. The day will close with awards and a catered
banquet in the Fredericktown-Arcadia-Ironton area (location TBD).
Sunday starts with the Boatercross event, where heats of four to six boats race around obstacles to reach the finish
line, with the fastest paddlers moving on to the next heat. The day continues with whitewater slalom for Open Canoes,
Plastic Kayaks, & SUPs. After racing is over and the course is cleaned up, there will be a final award ceremony and
Competition — The race is divided into multiple categories based on paddlers’ skill, boat type, and age. Competitors
range from beginners to seasoned veterans to the occasional Olympic level expert, and range in age from preteens to
those in their seventies. Boaters travel from around the country, and from as far away as Japan, to compete. Olympicclass
paddlers have used this race as training preparation for future Olympic Games. In 1972, the Championships were
a qualifier to the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials. In 1994, the event was a qualifier to the 1994 Olympic Festival. In 1999 the
race was a qualifying event for the U.S. National Team. In 2000 the race again served as a qualifier for the U.S. Olympic
More information can be found at our
website, missouriwhitewater.org or http://missouriwhitewater.org/competition/mwc/