One of the longest-standing river events in the west kicked off its 16th year Thursday on the Clark Fork River in Missoula.

Best in the West is held annually at Caras Park on Brennan's Wave.

Zootown Surfers and Strongwater Mountain Surfing Co. worked together this year to organize the event.

The day-long river festival features river surfing and kayaking competitions, live music and an after-party at Caras Park.

NBC Montana talked to one contestant who told us he learned to surf not at the beach, but in Missoula.

"I like it, it got hard at first, and then I got used to it," said surf contestant Carter Thompson. "I like when people watch you, and it's fun. You can surf in Montana. It's pretty cool. There's a lot of good people out there, I'm just having fun."

The festival is free to the public. It ends Thursday night at 8 p.m.