A weekend of races in Beacon Falls

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Beacon Falls Lions Club members Rod Farrell, left, and Michael Krenesky unleash over 900 rubber ducks into Bronson Brook at the start of the club’s annual duck race last year. This year’s Duck Race & Riverfest is Sunday. –FILE PHOTO

BEACON FALLS — Runners and rubber ducks will flock to Beacon Falls this weekend.

The 3rd annual Jill’s Race for MS is set for Saturday followed by the 20th annual Duck Race and Riverfest on Sunday.

Jill’s Race, which starts at the Beacon Falls Recreation Complex on Pent Road, features a 5K run, a half-mile Kids’ Fun Run, and a 2-mile fitness walk.

The race is held in honor of former Beacon Falls resident Jill Betkoski, who had multiple sclerosis and died 12 years ago at the age of 48. The money raised from the race will benefit the Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“People can come to race to help support research for multiple sclerosis and help the Multiple Sclerosis Society. They do more than just research. They help people afflicted with MS,” said Bill Mis, president of the Beacon Falls Lions Club, which sponsors Jill’s Race as well as the Duck Race and Riverfest.

The kids’ run steps off at 10 a.m. The 5K will start once that race is over, and the walkers will begin shortly after the runners. The registration fee for the 5K and fitness walk is $25 before race day and $30 the day of the race. The fun run costs $15 in advance and $20 the day of the race.

Registration information can be found online at www.lightboxreg.com/jills-race-for-ms_2018. Race day registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

The following day the town will come together for a tradition that has been going on for two decades.

The Duck Race and Riverfest runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Volunteer Park behind the firehouse on North Main Street.

Mis said the festival will have a lot of the offerings that people have come to expect over the years, such as vendors, food and a variety of activities for children.

This year the event will one again feature live music, which hasn’t happened the last two years, Mis said.

The event will culminate with the duck race, which kicks off at 3 p.m.

This year, the Lions Club will try to dump the rubber ducks from the ladder of Beacon Hose Company No. 1’s new firetruck, which arrived in town in April.

“This way we can showcase the fire department’s new ladder truck,” Mis said.

The duck race takes place in the Naugatuck River, which runs behind the firehouse. There has been a lot of rain lately, and the Naugatuck River is very full.

If the river does not recede, Mis said, the duck race will run a modified course and start under the Depot Street Bridge.

“However, we are hoping that by Sunday the river will subside and we can go about business as usual,” Mis said.

Raffle tickets for the duck race are available at the Beacon Falls Pharmacy, Beacon Falls Pizza, and New Harvest Restaurant. They will also be available during the festival.

The first 11 ducks to cross the finish line will earn their ticket holders prizes. The grand prize this year is a Sony PlayStation 4 Pro 1 terabyte console.

The club uses the money raised from the duck race to support the $8,000 worth of scholarships awarded to high school seniors from Beacon Falls annually, and various local sports programs and organizations.

“The proceeds go to help organizations throughout town,” Mis said. “Almost every dollar we raise stays in town. I would say about 90 percent of the money we raise goes back to Beacon Falls.”