By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – The Rock River will be full of makeshift rafts Sunday for the 2018 Rock River Anything That Floats Race.
It’s the third year for this version of the race that at its peak during the 1970s and ’80s drew 100,000 spectators. It begins at Illinois Street near old Coast Guard Station. It ends 1.65 miles down river at the Prairie Street Brewing Company finish line. There, there will also be food, drinks and live music by Dirty Fishnet Stockings.
The Gilligans will also perform on a raft patrolling the river.
There’s a new category in 2018, too, one for hulled crafts. From canoes to row boats to ski boats to pontoons, teams can use hulls in the creation of a raft, or just decorate a boat in a creative manner as they wish. Hulled boats will compete against each other for speed in their own division and against DIY made-from-scratch rafts in the Judges Choice and Peoples Choice categories.
The “Frank Schier Creativity” Judges Choice awards will be given to the most creative designs. Local area businesses, clubs, students and other groups of individuals were encouraged to sign up to make this event a fun team-building experience.
Of course, no motors are allowed.
The RRATFR has helped raise donations to support local efforts for the Fourth of July event, Rock River Trail Initiative and Rockford Ski Broncs. In 2017, the event was widely attended with over 40 homemade crafts and 200 participating rafters who collectively generated $9,000 in net proceeds.
Each organization received $3,000 for upgrades and improvements that will ultimately help to bring more residents and visitors to their establishments each year.
“The last couple years have been a blast bringing back the raft race and activating our Rock River,” Rock River Raft Race NFP Board Secretary and Treasurer Chris Manuel said.”We are truly grateful for the community’s support and can’t wait to see what types of designs teams come up with for their rafts this year. By adding in the brand new ‘raft with hull’ category we are hoping that will make the challenge even more fun for participants. It’s fun to have creative freedom. Most of all, we just want people to come out to enjoy a good time and a good laugh, too.”
Race Day Schedule
10 a.m – Raft sign-in begins
10 a.m. – Live radio remote, entertainment, food, and drinks at race start line area on Illinois Street near old Coast Guard Station
11:30 a.m. – Raft race registration ends
Noon – Anything That Floats Raft Race begins
Noon-1:30 p.m. – The Gilligans perform live for spectators from a raft patrolling the river
3-6 p.m. – Dirty Fishnet Stockings perform at Prairie Street Brewing Co. finish line
3:30 p.m. – Chuck-a-Duck Drop off Whitman St. Bridge
4:30 p.m. – Awards Ceremony at Prairie Street Brewing Co. finish line