GLADSTONE - Van Cleve Park was abuzz with activity Saturday as the Delta County Jaycees held the 17th Annual Duck Races in the park.
According to Kristi Hansen, president elect of the Jaycees and Duck Race chairperson, more than 7,000 tickets had been sold by noon Saturday. "Duck Central's been hoppin.' We've been selling a lot of tickets," she said.
Each ticket was matched with a duck which raced against 300 other ducks at a time.
Children played in the water by the shore while members of the Delta County Jaycees raced ducks through V-shaped nets at Van Cleve Park. The first 10 ducks to reach the point at the end of the netting moved on to the final heat. (Daily Press photo by Ilsa Matthes)
"We went out this morning and we set up these tracks. We'll go out with three of these gutters and we drop them at the same time and we have somebody at the end to collect the first 10 ducks to hit the point," said Hansen.
The top ten ducks from each race were kept in the Duck Central ticket tent until the final heat. The ticketholders of the winning ducks from the final heat received prizes.
"We take the top 25 ducks and then those 25 ducks are the 25 prize winners," said Hansen.
This year the first place prize was $5,000 cash. Second place received a kayak package and third place received a 47-inch LED television and Blu-Ray player.
The Jaycees keep 15,000 ducks to be used in the races every year. "We have to audit the ducks every two years to make sure we have the right number and all the ducks float," said Hansen.
The ducks may have been the main attraction in the park on Saturday, but they weren't the only thing drawing in visitors.
"This morning, we had our 5K run," said Hansen.
The Run, Walk, or Waddle 5K began at 10:30 a.m. Both the male and female overall winners were in the 15-19 age category but the race attracted all ages. Trevor Vetort and Amy Giesse had the best overall times of 16:20 and 20:53, respectively.
Visitors to the park also had the opportunity to participate in a bean bag tournament sponsored by Benoit's Glass & Lock. "Because there is drinking in here we say, '18 and under, no,' and we tell every body, 'no foul language,' and we try to play by the sanctioned rules," said Lisa Benoit of Benoit's Glass & Lock.
Participants in the bean bag tournament followed the rules for cornhole - as it is called in southern states - as put in place by the American Cornhole Association.
The winning team received $100 from Benoit's Glass & Lock, second place received $75 from Ward's Auto Body, third place received $60 from Bud Light, and fourth place received $50 from Jim's Auto Repair.
New this year to the Duck Races was a kickball tournament. "We wish we would have had a couple more teams but it's the first year," said Amanda Kang, a frequent kickball tournament participant who helped orchestrate the event.
Three co-ed teams, each consisting of between 10 and 14 players, participate in the tournament. "On the field at all times it's 5 guys 5 girls," said Kang.
Kids activities hosted by Boy Scouts Troop 408 and Venture Crew 401. A lollipop tree, bottle ring toss, and ping pong ball tosses gave kids an opportunity to win small prizes. "I'm handing out the little flyers, frisbees, ducks, and keychains," said Victoria DeMenter, Vice President of Programs for Venture Crew 401.
Other features of the event included a complimentary picnic sponsored by Crawford Funeral Home and Premier Real Estate, and a beer tent operated by the Elks. Live music was provided by Bad Munkee from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.