RECORD FUNDS RAISED AT ESTES PARK DUCK RACE FESTIVAL
ESTES PARK, CO — It was a record year for the Estes Park Duck Race Festival! A record 9,643 rubber ducks were dropped into Fall River at Saturday’s duck race, returning $161,709 to participating organizations — the highest amount returned in the festival’s history.
“It was a perfect day – warm and sunny with a clear blue sky, and so many fun activities going on all over town. The Duck Waddle 5K started things off at 9:00 a.m. around Lake Estes, and then beginning at 10:00 a.m. at both Riverside Plaza and at Nicky’s, there was live music, balloon art, rubber ducky painting, face painting, a scavenger hunt organized by the Estes Chamber of Commerce, djembe drummers, the ever-popular Duck Squat, duck-themed merchandise sales, and all sorts of other activities and entertainment between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Plus a beautiful performance by Renaissance Ballet on the stage at Performance Park, and Lucky Duck making appearances all over town,” said ‘Big Duck’ Beth Weisberg Sunday. “Everyone had a great time – how could you not, with all that was happening on one of the prettiest days we’ve had since winter, and all to support 66 of our local charities and nonprofits?”
Though the Duck Race has been taking place annually since 1989, this year’s race surpassed previous fund-raising records as the numbers of ducks adopted, and thus the proceeds earned by participating nonprofit and charitable organizations, surged beyond expectations. Previously, the highest number of duck adoptions was 7,198, and the highest previous return of funds to the participating organizations in any Estes Park Duck Race was $133,879. This year, 9,643 ducks were adopted, with a return to the participating organizations of $161,709.
“We have spent months focusing on ways to help our participating organizations expand their outreach with all-online adoptions this year,” said Weisberg. “I believe that the incredible number of duck adoptions this year is due to the fact that all adoptions were online, and the Rotary Duck Race tech team made it easier than ever for participating organizations to promote duck adoptions by their supporters, by providing QR codes and other tools for the organizations to use.” With the proceeds from this year’s duck adoptions, the Duck Race has returned a total exceeding 3 million dollars to Estes Valley charities and nonprofits since its inception in 1989.
Some statistics from the 2022 Duck Race:
Number of duck adoptions: 9,643.
Amount to be distributed to 66 Participating Organizations: $161,709 ($19 of every $22 paid duck adoption.)
Time from start to finish line for Duck #1: 1 hour, 47 minutes
Prizes donated by merchants: 338
Top prize winners:
LoAnne Forschmiedt – $8,000 cash prize
Stanley Osborne – $5,000 cash prize
David Hoffman – $2,000 cash prize
Leigh A Dawson – Pine Lodge at Glacier National Park vacation stay package
Mary Ross – Yellowstone National Park vacation stay package
Winner of the top cash prize of $8,000 LoAnne Forschmiedt was excited to hear she had won. “I usually only adopt one duck,” she said, “but my non-profit reached out and encouraged me to buy the 5-duck bundle. I feel blessed to have won and will use some of the money to support other Estes charities.”
Five-thousand-dollar prize winner Stan Osborne and his wife, Kathye, have volunteered on behalf of The Woman’s Club to help with the Duck Race in various roles for the past several years. “I was shocked and thrilled by this prize,” said Stan when notified that he had won, adding, “I intend for much of my winnings to stay here in the valley and add to the fantastic amount that the Duck Race raised this year.”
And David Hoffman, when notified that he had won the $2,000 cash prize, said, “I was pleasantly surprised to win and more importantly that my participation has benefited the Estes Valley Charities. A big thanks to all of the organizers and volunteers who made the Duck Race possible. I look forward to adopting ducks again next year.”
The high level of duck adoptions are an indication of just how hard the 66 Participating Organizations worked this year to promote duck adoptions to support their missions. The top 10 organizations in sales are, in order of sales:
Glen Haven Area VFD $7,619.00
Pet Association of EP $7,353.00
Volunteer Fire Dept of Big Elk $6,346.00
Estes Park Schools Bands $5,662.00
Crossroads Ministry of EP $5,643.00
Pinewood Springs Fire District $5,548.00
Rocky Mountain Conservancy $5,472.00
Caring Canines $4,123.00
Stanley Home Museum $4,047.00
Estes Park Rotary Foundation $3,971.00
Weisberg estimated that over 200 volunteers had turned out to help with the Race. “This year we asked each participating organization to provide at least one volunteer to help with the Duck Race,” she said. “Several organizations were eager to help and provided more than one volunteer. And many people who have volunteered in earlier years like it so much that they come back year after year on race day to help again.”
In addition, because of the importance of Duck Race funds to so many nonprofits and charities in Estes Park and surrounding areas, Visit Estes Park spearheaded publicity for this year’s Duck Race, the Estes Park Nonprofit Resource Center coordinated river security (involving 70 volunteers), and the Estes Chamber of Commerce helped to solicit merchant prizes. Other volunteers included current and former members of all three Rotary clubs in Estes Park, family members, friends, and people from the community who just like to help. Duck security “Sheriff” Barbara Jo Limmiatis supervised the river security volunteers, and Pied Piper Kirby Nelson- Hazelton protected from interference whichever duck was in the lead at the time, all the way to the end of the race. There, Rotarian Jim Austin and his crew of five in waders and armed with nets stood in the river and scooped the ducks out of the water in the order they crossed the finish line.
Now the little yellow rubber ducks are drying out in their secret location, resting up for their next adventure: the 2023 Estes Park Rotary Duck Race Festival.
“The Rotary Club of Estes Park is proud to sponsor and host the Rotary Duck Race Festival as one of its premier community service projects,” Weisberg said. “This is a way to bring visitors to Estes Park who patronize our restaurants, lodging, and merchants, and create a day of fun for our residents and visitors alike, all while providing a way for 66 of our nonprofits and charities to raise funds to support their work in our community. What could be better than that?”
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 $3 million to local Estes Park charities and groups. 2022 marks the 34th annual Duck Race.