BEACON FALLS — The town is preparing to bring ‘yaks and quacks together again for the annual River Fest.
The event combines the 17th annual Beacon Falls Lions Club’s Duck Race and the 8th annual Naugatuck Valley River Race. The festival is May 9.
From 12 to 5 p.m. festive activities, including food, crafts, vendors and live music by the Naugatuck-based Rubber City Blues Band, will take place at Volunteer Park behind the firehouse on North Main Street.
Lions Club President Bill Mis said this year the festival will also feature a variety of beers on tap.
“It’s a fun event. Good music, beer on tap, and lots of good food,” Mis said.
The day begins with the river race.
Pre-registration for the event is closed, but participants can still register that day, said Dave Faber, owner of CT Outdoors and organizer of the race. The registration fee for the race is $25.
The 6-mile race starts off of Platts Mill Road on the Naugatuck and Waterbury border. Registration will take place there between 9 and 10:30 a.m. The race itself will kick off at 11:30 a.m., Faber said.
Last year’s race had to be canceled due to dangerously high water levels in the Naugatuck River.
“This year we’re not looking bad at all. We’re hoping to get a little rain before the 9th,” Faber said. “That would make it a safe trip for everybody and a fun ride.”
Faber recommended that only experienced kayakers undertake the race as the river is dangerous in some areas.
“Depending on the water flow it can be mild to wild. It’s really not designed for first-timers,” Faber said. “We want to keep it as safe as possible.”
Faber said the race will be fun for those who want to watch as well as those paddling. Spectators can cheer on racers at the bridge near the Polish American Club, Linden Park, and Maple Street Bridge in Naugatuck, and Volunteer Park in Beacon Falls.
The festivities at Volunteer Park will bridge the gap between the river race and the duck race, which begins at 3:30 p.m.
People can adopt a duck for $5 to participate in the race. Prizes are given to the top nine finishers.
First prize this year is a Weber gas grill. Second prize is a 10-inch Samsung Galaxy tablet, third prize is a Bluetooth speaker, fourth prize is a $200 gift certificate to Beacon Falls Pharmacy, and fifth prize is a $125 gift certificate to Beacon Falls Pizza Palace. Sixth through ninth place are $100 gift certificates to local businesses.
The event helps the Lions Club give back to the community, Mis said. The duck race, which is traditionally the club’s largest fundraiser, raises money towards scholarships, eye research, and international nonprofit organizations, Mis said.
The majority of the money stays in the community to help residents, Mis said.
The river race also gives back to the community.
“The money we charge goes to the continued cleanup of the river and the restoration of plant life along the river,” Faber said. “It’s a great charity because it all goes back into the river and continues to help the Naugatuck River become as beautiful as it can be.”
Beacon Falls Pharmacy Owner Robert Bradley, who has been involved with the event since its beginning, called the day a good family event.
“It’s just a lot of fun. It’s just a good day outside enjoying the clean Naugatuck River,” Bradley said.