Yaks and quacks set for encore

Beacon Falls Lions Club members, John Weid, left, Michael Krenesky, right front, and Chris Jurzynski release rubber ducks in the Naugatuck River to start last year’s Duck Race. –FILE PHOTO

Beacon Falls Lions Club members, John Weid, left, Michael Krenesky, right front, and Chris Jurzynski release rubber ducks in the Naugatuck River to start last year’s Duck Race. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — The ‘yaks and quacks are coming together again.

On May 4, Volunteer Park will be the site of the Naugatuck River Festival, which combines the annual Naugatuck Valley Canoe and Kayak Race and the annual Beacon Falls Duck Race.

The Duck Race is hosted by the Beacon Falls Lions and Lioness clubs.

Lioness Club President Sue Mis said preparations for the event are coming along very well.

“The park is filling with interesting vendors, good food, and excitement for the whole family,” Mis said.

Last year was the first time the two events were held on the same day.

Robert Bradley, owner of Beacon Falls Pharmacy and one of the race committee chairs, said last year the crowd was about five times the size than either of the events was able to draw separately.

In addition to the food vendors and arts and crafts vendors Bradley said there will also be live music performed by “Those Guys” and float plane rides offered at Toby’s Pond throughout the day.

According to Dave Faber, owner of Connecticut Outdoors in Oakville and one of the race committee chairs, the race started as a grass roots effort to get people aware of the beauty of the Naugatuck River.

The six mile race will start at 11:30 a.m. at Platts Mill Road in Waterbury and finish at Volunteer Park.

“It’s just a nice day to get out. It’s a great spectator event,” Faber said.

Faber said that some of the best places to see the race are at General Pulaski Bridge and Linden Park, both in Naugatuck, and at the festival site.

Faber said that river conditions are better than they were last year at this time, but still not perfect.

Michael Duda of Beacon Falls kayaks down the Naugatuck River in Beacon Falls during last year’s Naugatuck Valley Canoe and Kayak River Race. The race will once again be held in conjunction with the Beacon Falls Duck Race on May 4. –FILE PHOTO

Michael Duda of Beacon Falls kayaks down the Naugatuck River in Beacon Falls during last year’s Naugatuck Valley Canoe and Kayak River Race. The race will once again be held in conjunction with the Beacon Falls Duck Race on May 4. –FILE PHOTO

“We’re hoping for better conditions this year. You can still go down the river, but it’s a little more fun with more water,” Faber said. “We’re hoping for a little rain before the event, but we don’t want too much, we want to keep it safe.”

Faber said that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has been working with the Army Corp of Engineers on the possibility of opening one of the dams along the river. This would help raise the level of the river if no rain falls before the event.

Regardless of how much water is in the river, Faber said the event will not disappoint.

“Were asking people to come down and join in the fun. The more the merrier,” Faber said.

People can register for the race up until 10 a.m. May 4. Anyone registering by mail is asked to mail their registration as early as possible to ensure they are received before the race. Registration forms can be found at www.4ctoutdoors.com/naugatuck-river/nvrr/.

Registration for the race is $25, or $35 for registration and an official race day t-shirt.

In addition to being a fun event, the Duck Race is also a major fundraiser for the Lions and Lioness clubs.

Ducks can be purchased before the race for $5 at Beacon Falls Pharmacy, Beacon Beer and Beverage, Beacon Falls Bakery or from any Lions or Lioness Club member. Ducks will be available at the event as well. The duck race will start at 3:30 p.m.

All the money raised goes back into the community, Mis said. The Lionesses support organizations such as The Citizen’s for Tomorrow’s Downtown, a nonpolitical, ad hoc citizens group that has been serving Beacon Falls since 1998. The clubs also support research for Alzheimer’s disease and local guide dog organizations. Mis added some of the money will also be used to help local families in need during the Christmas season.

“With the help of local guidance counselors we adopt families at Christmas time. The (school) guidance counselors let us know the needs of the families and we try to make their Christmas a little more pleasant,” Mis said.

Mis said the Lioness Club also gives a $1,000 scholarship each year to a Beacon Falls student who is headed off to college.

In addition to helping put the festival together the Lionesses will also be selling treats to raise money.

“The Lionesses sell the best cookies on the eastern seaboard,” Mis said.

For more information, visit www.bfpharmacy.com or www.4ctoutdoors.com.

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