Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Downstream ducks do their part

Wagon Days Duck Race provides funding to Blaine County Search & Rescue

Express Staff Writer

Thousands of rubber ducks float down the Big Wood River during the race last year. Photo by Willy Cook

    After spending two years sharing Saturday billing with the Big Hitch Parade, the Great Wagon Days Duck Race is back on center stage Sunday, Aug. 31.
    For the 18th year in a row, more than 10,000 yellow rubber ducks will take to the Big Wood River at the Warm Springs Road bridge in Ketchum and race with the current to the finish line at Rotary Park. A crowd of locals and visitors will welcome the ducks as they arrive, hoping that one of their adopted ducks won a prize.
    Grossing as much as $90,000 in previous years, the Rotary Club event raises money for Blaine County Search & Rescue and provides scholarships to local high school students.
    Some of the proceeds also go to 50 local charities, including the Advocates, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, Rotarun ski area, Girls on the Run, Hailey Ice and the Papoose Club.
    The party starts at 2 p.m. at Rotary Park, with live music by The Heaters from 3-5 p.m. The ducks should hit the water around 4 p.m.
    Lucky ducks are now on sale throughout the valley. For $5 a duck (with discounts for multiple duck purchases), adopters get a chance to win one of nearly 70 prizes. Those include Sun Valley Resort alpine and Nordic ski passes, a Blaine County trails Nordic pass, guided fly-fishing or whitewater trips, wine packages, yoga and spa sessions, and lunches or dinners.
    Packages include six ducks for $25 and 13 for $50. Ducks are for sale at businesses all over Ketchum and Hailey, as well as from Rotary Club members.
    “We’re really excited,” said event Co-Chair Janine Bear. “We’ve gotten a big response so far.”
    Thirteen local business sponsors have helped cover expenses for ads, the band, entry forms and duck rental.
    “They’re a huge support,” Bear said. “Without them, we couldn’t do this for $5 a duck.”
    The duck race is one of about a half dozen events that the Rotary Club holds every year to raise money for local charities.
    “Every event that we put on is to raise money to give to the community,” Bear said.

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