By Vicki Hood | Guernsey Gazette Editor
GUERNSEY — Seven years ago, Guernsey’s Economic and Tourism Development Corporation was looking for a way to bring some people to town and provide some fun for the community.
Borrowing an fundraising event started by Guernsey’s Old Timers, the group began sponsoring a duck race. Taking advantage of the community’s natural layout in relationship to the North Platte River, hundreds of small, numbered plastic ducks are dumped into the river on the west side of town and the first ones to reach the south river bridge are declared winners, earning their owners a nice cash prize.
Well-received and supported by the community, soon additional events were added to the day, including a 5k road race along with a fun run early on the morning of the duck race, and activities in Gordon Davis Park following the duck race.
Four years ago, organizers added what’s become a very popular event to the day’s activities--a beer fest in the park. For several hours, miniature mugs of a large variety of beers are dispersed for tokens that may be purchased with tokens. Along with a salsa contest, horseshoe and corn hole tournaments, and live music throughout the afternoon, it has become a well-attended addition to the Duck Daze celebration.
This year’s “Duck Daze in the Dark” will be held Saturday, August 19th and promises to be one of the best ever. Crowds are anticipated to be considerably larger this year due to the total solar eclipse occurring on Monday, August 21st.
The day kicks off with “Run With the Sun” at Guernsey State Park, a 5K Trail Run. Entries are being accepted in three divisions: Youth 9-12; 16-54 and 55 and older. Registration fees are $15 for the Youth and Senior divisions and $25 for the 16-54 age group. Registration includes a t-shirt, eclipse glasses and a goodie bag. Other eclipse items will be available for purchase as well. Registrations will be held at 8 a.m. the morning of the race and the run begins at 9 a.m. Staging area will be set up at Guernsey Dam on the east side of Guernsey State Park.
Then it’s on the one of the feature events of the day--the duck race on the river. Quack Packs are on sale from any Economic Development members or at Oregon Trail Bank, First State Bank, Howshar Hardware, Register Cliff Pharmacy and Guernsey Town Hall. They include five numbered tickets for the duck race, a commemorative rubber duck, magnet, and tokens good for two beers with a paid admissions to the beer fest. Cash prizes are $750 for first place, $500 for second, $250 for third and $100 for fourth and fifth.
The ducks hit the water at 10:30 a.m. and with the river running high and fast, it won’t be long until the winners are declared at the south river bridge.
Once the “lucky ducks” are declared and announced, it’s time to head up to Davis Park where events begin at 11 a.m. Food vendors will be cooking up lunch and be sure to get your team signed up for the corn hole and horseshoe tournaments. Entry fees are $20 per team and all funds returned as prize money.
Guernsey’s third Farmer’s Market will run from noon to 2 p.m. with all kinds of local fresh produce and homemade foods and crafts.
The salsa contest will be judged at 1 p.m. with cash prizes for the People’s Choice and the Judge’s Choice winners.
The Beer Fest runs from 2 to 6 p.m. A $15 paid admission gets you a small mug and five tokens for the over three dozen of beers on hand for sampling. Additional tokens will also be available for $1 each.
Get your ducks in a row and be ready for what’s sure to be a great day full of fun.
ABOVE: With the crack of the official starter gun courtesy of the Guernsey Police Department, Doug and Chuck Frederick dump 1,000 plastic ducks into the river to start the 2014 Duck Daze River Race.