Annual Riverfest and Duck Race this weekend

BEACON FALLS — Usually ducks fly together. This weekend, in Beacon Falls, all eyes will be on the ducks that fly — or in this case float — alone.

The12th Annual Riverfest and Duck Race will be held in downtown Beacon Falls this Saturday, and  thousands of area residents are expected to attend as heaps of tiny yellow rubber ducks are plunged into the Naugatuck River.

Residents and visitors look on from the Depot Street Bridge as the ducks begin to float downstream during the 2009 Riverfest and Duck Race.

Each year the ducks are dropped into the river near Volunteer Park and float their way down toward a narrow bottleneck that separates the masses and allows only one duck at a time through the entrance — and it pays to find your duck alone at the top.

Participants can claim a numbered duck for $5 and receive a raffle ticket with a matching number. Winners, as in years past, will receive cash and prizes.

This year, the first place prize is a $1,000 gift certificate for a hot air balloon flight. The second prize is a 16-gigabyte IPad, and the third prize is an 8-gigabyte IPod Touch. Other prizes include a Fujifilm digital camera, jewelry cleaner, a portable DVD player, and $100 gift cards to Best Buy, Stop and Shop and Hope Depot.

Another prize, a $2,000 travel voucher to E-Z Travels of Ansonia, will be awarded by the Beacon Falls Merchant’s Association to the winner of its ongoing “Shop Locally” contest.

Officials hope the prospect of generous prizes attracts outside residents into Beacon Falls, and that once they’re downtown, they realize the beauty the area has to offer.

“It’s a great get-together, said Beacon Falls First Selectman Sue Cable. “It brings people here and helps them realize the beauty of this river and to appreciate the businesses that we have in Beacon Falls.”

Bob Bradley, a Lions Club member, Beacon Falls Merchant’s Association founder and local business owner, said he views the race as a way put downtown on display for visitors who may not know what Beacon Falls has to offer.

“It’s great to show not only residents of the town but people from out of town what is going on here,” Bradley said. “I think it makes a lot of people realize there is more to Beacon Falls than there once was. There is a lot going on, a lot of new business. Beacon Falls is growing, especially downtown, and this is a great way to show that.”

In addition to the race there will be approximately 20 large fiberglass ducks weighing in at nearly 150 pounds on display along Main Street.
The event is funded by numerous organizations in and around the Beacon Falls area.

The duck race is one of the biggest fundraisers held by the Lions Club each year. All money raised by the Lions at the event will be returned back into the community in the form of scholarships and other beneficial grants, Bradley said.

In past years, inclement weather has left the ducks singing in the rain, but this weekend clear skies are expected overhead while the ducks are tossed into the current below.

“It’s going to be a great day for it,” Bradley said. “I’m expecting it to be a good turn out and all the same fun we have every year.”