Rain doesn’t hold off Riverfest

Laura Vitzoski, 10, and Tanya Gutierro, both of Beacon Falls, at the annual Beacon Falls RiverFest and Duck Race in Beacon Falls on Saturday.

Laura Vitzoski, 10, and Tanya Gutierro, both of Beacon Falls, at the annual Beacon Falls RiverFest and Duck Race in Beacon Falls on Saturday.

BEACON FALLS — Rain, rain did not make the hundreds upon hundreds of people go away at the 11th annual Beacon Falls River Fest and Duck Race Saturday at Beacon Hose Co. No. 1 and Volunteer Park. Despite an overcast—and sometimes very wet—late morning and afternoon, more than 1,000 visitors flocked to downtown Beacon Falls to check out the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes brought to them by the Beacon Falls Lions and Lioness Clubs.

A mass of vendors, from local restaurants to local businesses and organizations to the town’s Republican and Democratic town committees, packed the grounds of Beacon Hose, spilling into the Beacon Falls Senior Center, Volunteer Park, and North Main Street.

In addition to the myriad booths around the River Fest, the Woodland Fine Arts Booster Club sponsored a silent art auction inside the senior center, putting more than 30 pieces of art up for bid. Each work was donated by a local artist, teacher, or student.

The River Fest and Duck Race also served as the kickoff to Beacon Hose Co. No. 1’s Fire Prevention Week, which runs through Sunday. The fire department held an open house all day long, opening an ambulance and fire engine and putting their contents on display inside the garage. The company also operated a simulated smoke house and performed two demonstrations for the public—a vehicle extrication and a grease fire.

Other features of the River Fest included the Lioness Club’s cookie walk and quilt raffle, the drawing in the Beacon Falls Merchants Association’s Shop Locally Sweepstakes, the first-ever Parade of Ducks (a line of large, fiberglass ducks decorated by local businesses, organizations, and citizens), and several live music acts.

Of course, the main attraction of the day was the Duck Race, which was first run down the Naugatuck River in 1999. The Lions Club sold thousands of tickets to adopt ducks, which were released at the bottom of Volunteer Park, running about a quarter-mile down river before the first eight ducks to finish the race were fished from the water as prize winners.

The first prize, a $1,500 voucher good at EZ Travel in Ansonia, was won by Rebecca Ventimiglia. Other prizes included a four-piece set of Samsonite luggage, a PlayStation 3, a digital camera, and several gift certificates.

“We want to thank everybody for coming down, despite the weather,” Lions Club President Rod Farrell said just before announcing the prize winners, “This event is a lot of fun, and we hope to see everybody back next year.”