Beacon Falls to hold 11th Riverfest Saturday

BEACON FALLS — Lions Club member, Merchant’s Association founder and local business owner Bob Bradley can recall the state of the Naugatuck River as he was growing up—it was a different color all the time, he said, depending on what the chemical plants upriver were dumping on any given day. It was “just hideous … a dead, toxic, poisonous river.”

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In this 2007 photo, Bill Fredericks (left) and Joe Poirier (center) trailed by Joy Adamatis, carry ducks to the riverside during Beacon Falls’ annual Riverfest and Duck Race. This year’s event takes place Saturday.

Pollution of the river might have improved considerably since that time, but it will run yellow on Saturday—not with toxic waste or poisonous chemicals, but with little yellow rubber ducks—as part of the town’s 11th Annual Riverfest and Duck Race.

Participants can sponsor a numbered duck for $5 and receive a raffle ticket with the same number. The ducks are dropped into the river, allowed to cruise for a couple hundred yards then driven down a bottleneck, which eventually allows only one duck at a time to pass—and only the strong survive.

The sponsors of the first several ducks to pass the finish line will win prizes that include a Playstation 3, a fishing trip, and a $1,500 travel voucher.

Proceeds from the race will benefit Lions Club scholarships for Woodland seniors.

But the duck race isn’t the only thing to see at the Riverfest, though it might be the most touted spectacle.

The Woodland Fine Arts booster Club will hold an art show and silent auction, the Beacon Falls Merchant’s Association will announce the winners of its “Think Globally, Shop Locally” contest, and games, crafts, food, and live music will be available all day.

Bradley said the event started off as a “bit of a farce … a tongue-in-cheek sort of thing,” but that it’s now become something of a tradition for Beacon Falls denizens.

Beacon Falls First Selectman Sue Cable indicated the Riverfest’s importance in “highlighting [Beacon Falls’] downtown revitalization” and giving commissions and volunteer organizations a chance to “showcase what they do and let people know what we have in the community.”

This year, for the first time, there will be a scavenger hunt associated with the Riverfest, which will continue two weeks after the event.

Local businesses, organizations, and even some private residents have purchased a total of 21 three-by-three foot, roughly 150-pound fiberglass ducks. These will be on display on Main Street until Oct 13, at which point they will be redistributed to their respective owners—at this point, residents can hunt down the ducks and answer a trivia question that corresponds to each duck found. The first three people to find all the ducks and answer the questions correctly will win a prize.