Duck Race News

Surpassing $3 Million in Total Funds Raised


ESTES PARK, CO — The Rotary Club of Estes Park expects its annual fundraiser to surpass $3 million in total funds raised for Estes Park nonprofits at the 2022 Duck Race Festival on May 7, 2022.

Conceived in 1989 to raise money for the many local nonprofit organizations that support the Estes Park community while providing a fun event for locals and tourists alike, the event has consistently raised around $100,000 annually. 2022 is the event’s 34th consecutive year and is expected to achieve a milestone for the organization: topping $3 million in funds raised.

The event is run solely by volunteers. Administrative, operational and financial components of the event are managed by volunteers of the Rotary Club of Estes Park and residents chip in to assist with day-of operations. Local and regional businesses sponsor the event to ensure that the majority of funds raised go back to participating Estes Park nonprofits.

Participating nonprofits are responsible for selling duck adoptions to supporters. Supporters who adopt a duck receive a duck number. On race day a rubber duck for each duck adopted is dropped into Fall River, where they ride the current to the finish line just over 1.5 miles downstream. Finish line volunteers then scoop the winning ducks from the river to determine the winners. The Rotary Club of Estes Park keeps 7,000 rubber ducks on hand for the nonprofits to adopt out.

Impressively, many of the Rotary Club of Estes Park’s members have been volunteering their time to execute the duck race for decades. “Each year is different from the year before. The race is constantly evolving, refining, refactoring, all while growing stronger, being better planned, and better executed,” said 19-year duck race volunteer veterans Sandy and Lee Lasson. “I started with the Duck Race by volunteering to help on the river nineteen years ago. At that time, a new database program was being developed to run the race and I was recruited to help with the technology. Using my tech experience to help the community through the Estes Park Rotary Duck Race is always good fun and extraordinarily actualizing,” Lee continued. The Lassons run Duck Central ever year, the office that “keeps our ducks in a row,” says Sandy. They even recruited their daughter, Cassie Lasson, to donate her expertise in web design and hosting to manage, the festival’s website.

The race is just one aspect of a larger festival, where attendees of all ages have the chance to run the Duck Waddle 5K, enjoy live music including a brass quintet, a jazz band, an acoustic rock/folk duo, the Estes Park High School Choir and an African drum group, enjoy entertainment such as face painting, balloon art, a performance by Ballet Renaissance on the stage at Performance Park and take part in a scavenger hunt.

First prize is $8,000 cash, with other major prizes of $5,000 cash, $2,000 cash, and two 3-night vacation stays for two donated by Delaware North, one at Old Faithful Cabin, Yellowstone National Park and one at The Pine Lodge on Whitefish River, near Glacier National Park. Hundreds of other prizes from local merchants will mean lots of winners on Race Day.

The planning and execution of this event is a monumental project that Rotary volunteers take on annually. Participating nonprofits keep $19 of every $22 duck adopted. Tireless work goes into maintaining this return.

Reflecting on their 19 years of service to the duck race, the Lassons commented, “while we call it the Estes Park Rotary Duck Race, we all know it is the Estes Park community’s Duck Race and we in Rotary are just the caretakers. Everything everyone in town does for the duck race can’t be detailed here but know this is a truly unique and remarkable event by and for the Estes Park area community.”

For an updated schedule of entertainment, visit For more information about the Duck Waddle 5K or to register, see

The Estes Park Rotary Duck Race Festival is held annually on the first Saturday in May. The Annual Duck Race continues a tradition started in 1989, which has returned nearly $3 million to local Estes Park charities and groups. 2022 marks the 34th annual Duck Race.