BUENA VISTA, Colo. (CBS4) – A small Colorado mountain town is seeing big benefits from its growing outdoor recreation industry.

It’s expected to be busy holiday weekend on the water in Buena Vista as PaddleFest has really transformed the town.

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The event continues to grow drawing bigger crowds to what was once land used for the town dump — literally.

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PaddleFest organizer Earl Richmond has watched the event grow as the river park investment begins to pay off.

“It’s the longest river park in the state of Colorado. It’s has five in-stream features. Public access with boat ramps and trails all around. It’s really, really beautiful,” Richmond said.

Years of work to create the paddle play land is helping to change the area and bringing in new life to the old ranching town.

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“It’s great most of these paddlers out here are young … this is the future of kayaking,” mother of participants Stacie Kimmell said.

Paddlers like Kimmell’s son are drawn there for an event that combines white water and small town fun.

“The river park in Buena Vista has been improved every year,” Richmond said.

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“What they’ve done on the river bank here and having places for the crowd to sit and watch is the most important part,” Kimmell said.

Buena Vista is on the map in a big way. And that growth is only expected to continue.

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“It’s allowed the whole town and the whole state to come recreated here, which hasn’t happened in the past,” Richmond said.

Events and competition in the river really kicked off Saturday and run all weekend … and CBS4’s Matt Kroschel says the weather is perfect.

LINK: PaddleFest

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