Yellow ducks to roll on the river

Thursday, September 10, 2020
It takes a lot of volunteers to make sure the thousands of yellow ducks purchased by local residents make it into the Duck River for the annual “Ducks on the Duck” race benefitting United Way of Bedford County. The 2020 event is planned for Sept. 26 at Fisherman’s Park off South Cannon Boulevard.
Submitted photo

English poet F.W. Harvey once penned, “From troubles of the world, I turn to ducks.”

After a long COVID-laden spring and summer, it’s time for everyone to get their ducks in a row for the third annual “Ducks on the Duck” race benefitting United Way of Bedford County.

Plans are for 2,000 yellow rubber ducks to set out from below the dam at Fisherman’s Park Sept. 26. The event is planned from noon to 2 p.m. in the lot behind the new Bedford County office building. Ducks swim at 1:30 p.m. You do not have to be present to win.

The winner receives $1,000, second prize is $500 with $300 for third, $200 for fourth and $100 to the fifth-place duck owner. A special prize package will be presented to the last duck to finish.

Gary Dearing provides videotaping of the race, including the finish and the final inspection of the trap for the top 10 ducks.

Ducks can be purchased from United Way of Bedford County board members, online at or by visiting the United Way office on Delray in the First Community Bank building.

Ducks are $5 each. A “Quacker” box of six ducks sells for $25. A “Quack Up” consists of a dozen for $50.

“This is always a fun event,” UWBC executive director Mark McGee said. “Seeing 2,000 ducks bobbing to the finish line on the other side of the bridge is an impressive sight. The event is being held outside. We will encourage the use of masks as well as social distancing.”

McGee stressed all money raised through this event is donated to non-profits serving Bedford County.

“The more money we make, the larger our contributions,” McGee said. “Despite economic problems, we have expanded our allocations for 2020-21 to benefit 18 non-profits and 19 programs, an increase in the number of programs over the last fiscal year.”

The event is being held on the eve of Worldwide River Day which is scheduled for Sept. 27.

In conjunction with the United Way of Bedford County event, Uptown Merchants will also be celebrating the importance of the Duck River, especially to the businesses around the square.

Starting Sept. 11 at the cruise-in for the Celebration City Car Club at the courthouse, cards featuring a duck profile and a river will be sold for $1. Merchants are encouraged to present the option of a purchase to customers through the end of September and to post the cards in their windows. Proceeds will be split between “Clean the River” and United Way of Bedford County, McGee said.

There will be a “Duck Walk” on the courthouse lawn at 1 p.m. There will also be a contest for custom-designed PPE masks celebrating the Duck River at 11 a.m.

The “Car Show of the South” will be held around the courthouse on Sept. 26. Calvin Cannon, a spokesman for the Uptown Merchants, said 26 trophies will be presented including four memorial trophies and two mayor’s trophies.

“Rivers so near to a downtown are a tremendous boost for tourism,” Cannon said. “The more we all get involved with the river, both economically and environmentally, the better it is going to be for downtown businesses.