On November 1st, seven river guides and 18 guests exited the Colorado River at Diamond Creek after 17 days in Grand Canyon and traveled back to Flagstaff, AZ. It marked the final domestic trip of a 50th anniversary season for veteran outfitter OARS. On a Sunday afternoon two days later, the company hosted a season-ending party—the 5th in a series of 50th anniversary events meant to pay tribute to the thousands of guides and employees, nearly a million guests, and the communities that have supported the company over the last five decades.
In addition to Flagstaff, the OARS 50th Anniversary Boathouse Tour drew crowds of 150 to 300 partygoers at several OARS operational outposts throughout the American West, including Vernal, UT, Grants Pass, OR, Salmon, ID, and Angels Camp, CA. Each event featured dinner, drinks, live music, river games, a mini film festival, and the chance to win gear prizes from sponsors YETI, NRS, Chaco, Smith and Chums. Additionally, each attendee walked away with an OARS 50th anniversary 18-oz. YETI Rambler.
“In a lot of ways, our 50th anniversary season has been all about gratitude—we wanted to say thanks to the guides and employees, guests, and local businesses that have supported us over the years. For past anniversaries, we’ve had one big party, but by hosting multiple events, we were able to bring the party to the people, talk face to face with our team—both past and present—and open our doors to the local community,” Steve Markle, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for OARS, said. “We also wanted to highlight the significant role guides and outfitters play in local economies and their efforts to protect our public lands and waters.”
“Community has always been an integral part of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., which is why we jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the OARS Boathouse tour in support of the Pam and George Wendt Foundation,” said Brian Kracht, the Northern California Area Marketing Manager for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. “There are lots of similarities between our two companies, but the most prevalent one is that both our brands see the value of people enjoying the outdoors, and giving back to our local guiding community helps reinforce that these natural playgrounds are worth standing up for and protecting.”
In the end, support from local beer, wine, and food sponsors meant OARS was able to donate every dollar raised at each event to a local non-profit. In total, the OARS 50th Anniversary Boathouse Tour raised more than $20,000 for organizations that support the health and wellness of guiding communities and the next generation of river lovers. This year’s non-profit beneficiaries included:
- Colorado Plateau River Guides – Vernal, UT
- Maslow Project – Grants Pass, OR
- The Redside Foundation – Salmon, ID
- The Pam & George Wendt Foundation – Angels Camp, CA
- The Whale Foundation – Flagstaff, AZ
“The Boathouse Tour was a wonderful way to gather our guide and guide-support community. The Boathouse Tour not only helped us continue to achieve our mission of ‘supporting the health and strength of Idaho’s guiding community,’ it also was a no-fuss, high impact fundraiser for our organization,” said Emerald LaFortune, the former Executive Director of the Redside Foundation. “I believe that community is a bedrock necessity of physical, mental, and financial health. The Boathouse Tour helped us continue to cultivate that community in Salmon, Idaho and was an event folks are still talking about three months later.”
Markle added, “From the local grocery stores and mechanics to our decades-long partnerships with the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management among others, we have so many people and years of partnership to celebrate. We couldn’t have made it 50 years without them.”
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