Duck Race News

Theme, prizes unveiled for 2021 Rotary Duck Race

Although Estes Park may currently resemble a snow globe, everyone knows the Rotary Duck Race Festival is right around the corner. The race committee has unveiled this year’s theme and major prizes. The list of participating organizations that will benefit is complete, the roster of major and associate sponsors finalized, and merchant prize donations and duck adoptions have begun.

The theme of the Saturday, May 1 event, Honoring Our First Responders, captures the gratitude of every resident of Estes Park and the surrounding area for our brave first responders. Last fall, they safeguarded our mountain communities from the rapid advance of the two largest wildfires in Colorado history, helped with mandatory evacuations, tirelessly worked countless hours to ensure safety, and made sure residents had timely status updates.

“We try to make all important decisions as a committee mainly because many members have run or participated in more Duck Races than I have,” said Big Duck ’21 Bill Solms. “When addressing the theme of this year’s race, our good friend Don Widrig suggested first responders, and then firefighters/ paramedics soon followed. He might not have been the first voice, but it was the one I heard first followed by the unanimous approval of the committee.”

Solms has invited first responders to assist with the duck drop into the Lazy River at the Estes Valley Community Center for the start of the Duck Race on May 1.

Each year the race chairperson also works with a local artist to create a unique mascot style and related marketing materials. “Local Herd” cartoon creator Tim Buck is the 2021 artist, having assumed the art role from Gary Hazelton a few years ago.

“Being Big Duck this year has thrust me into communicating with many great personalities that have been in Estes Park awhile,” Solms said “Tim Buck is an energetic, creative and talented artist who has followed in Gary Hazelton’s tradition of tackling the art aspects of representing an event like our Duck Race. What makes my job easier is to have people like Tim available who are responsive to every aspect the job requires. If you are a firefighter or other type of first responder, you could probably recognize your firefighting/paramedic vehicle in his poster rendition for this year just by its color and design! He even added the Lazy River into the traditional poster in such a way to tactfully explain our dilemma with COVID restrictions unique to 2021.”

The Festival will be live-streamed without the traditional Race Day crowds again this year to ensure the health and safety of the many volunteers and our community. The Duck Race Committee looks hopefully forward to a return to a race where the ducks will “swim” down the Fall River with live crowds and festivities, in 2022.

This year the Rotary Duck Race Festival begins with a “Pre-Flight Show” at noon Saturday, May 1, with celebrity guests and performers,  including a performance of “Duck Lake” by Ballet Renaissance, and Cowboy Brad Fitch crooning some of his most memorable songs. Adoption sales will end at 1 p.m., and the duck drop and the race itself where thousands of little yellow rubber duckies will swim the Lazy River will start around 1:10 p.m. The event will be live-streamed and available for viewing on YouTube, Facebook and TDS Channel 8/108 – The Rocky Mountain Channel. No in-person attendance will be permitted.  A Duck Waddle 5K sponsored by the Estes Park Running Club will kick off Duck Race morning; details and registration are available on The full  day’s schedule is available at

The 2021 event will feature three major cash prizes and two vacation packages donated by Delaware North Parks and Resorts. Top prizes are:

  • $5,000 cash
  • $2,500 cash
  •  $1,000 cash
  • Three-night stay for two in a suite at The Pine Lodge on Whitefish River, Whitefish, Montana, located near Glacier National Park. The package includes access to all amenities: continental breakfast, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, bicycles and a guided trip to Glacier National Park.
  • Three-night stay for two in a one-bedroom, one-bath Old Faithful cabin at West Yellowstone, Montana. The trip includes an all-day guided snow coach tour to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone or Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park; park fees and box lunches; dinner at the Branch Restaurant; and tickets to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center and IMAX Theater in West Yellowstone. The vacation packages, which expire on Sept. 30, 2022, are subject to availability and must be arranged through Delaware North.


Additionally, there will be hundreds of prizes donated by Estes Valley merchants. As the first five ducks arrive, prize winners will be announced and posted. All remaining prize winners will be posted on the Duck Race website,, by 5 p.m. on May 1.

The reason for the race? To help the 65 Estes Valley groups and charities that are  participating in this year’s Duck Race. The complete list of beneficiaries is available on

“The generosity of major and associate sponsors makes the race possible,” said Scott Thompson, who led the sponsorship effort. Major sponsors contribute $500 or more in cash or services to support race prizes. Associate sponsors donate $100-$499 in cash or services. The company logos of major sponsors and names of associate sponsors appear on Duck Race posters and website and will be published weekly in the local newspapers starting in April.

The 2021 goal is to raise $135,000 or more in duck adoptions. Adoptions benefit the participating organizations that sell them. The cost to adopt a duck remains $20, with an additional $2 handling fee per adoption. For each $20 adoption sold, $19 goes to the beneficiary organization selected by whoever is adopting the duck(s). In the past 30 years, the Estes Park Duck Race has returned more than $2.7 million to Estes Valley charitable and nonprofit organizations. These charities need everyone to adopt ducks more than ever this year!

Questions? Email  or call 970-235-1721.