Sunday 10 September is the date to put in your diaries for the great Rotary Duck Race, which will be happening at Fawcett Park in Ballina to help three wonderful community causes.
The Echo caught up with Ballina-on-Richmond Rotary’s President Jamie Marshall and ‘Duckmaster’ Michael Jones to find out more.
Jamie Marshall said this year’s event will be bigger and better than last time. ‘Obviously, we’ve had a relaxation of all the COVID rules. So there’ll be more food trucks, more entertainment, and more kids’ games – we’re trying to get more of the community involved.’
There are two competitions within the Rotary Duck Race; Best Dressed Corporate Duck, with local businesses and organisations outfitting fancy ducks to win a trophy (these ones don’t go swimming), and the Community Duck Race, where anyone can buy a duck to have a chance at some great prizes when they go into the Richmond.
Tickets are available online here or via the temporary shopfront at 130 River Street, where people can also check out the spectacular corporate ducks.
Jamie Marshall said 200 local businesses have already signed up, but ‘if there’s any more businesses or organisations that want to jump in and get their corporate duck dressed up in time, or are ready to race, they just need to get in touch and we’ll get it organised.’
Ducks in a row
Rotary’s Michael Jones has masterminded quite a few duck races in his time, and says this year is going to be extra special, with more entertainment than previous years, including a guitar duo and a performance from Sprung Integrated Theatre, along with a ukelele and acoustic group called The Lennox Minstrels.
In terms of food, attractions will include Lennox Smokin’ Barrel, fresh donuts, sno cones and the Rotary BBQ.
Mr Jones said the day will kick off at 11 am on Sunday with entertainment, then the best dressed duck judging and announcements, followed by the big race at 2pm.
Prizes in the community duck race include a $500 voucher donated by Harvey Norman Ballina, $250 cash donated by Launch Performance and 4X4 in Ballina, and a $100 voucher donated by Resonator Music.
Last year’s Kiss duck was a spectacular winner, and the corporate bar has been raised even further this year. It will be a challenge for the judges!
This year’s charities
The Rotary Duck Race fundraising will go to three important local charities this year, namely:
- Our House (providing accommodation for patients, carers, and their families who are receiving treatment at Lismore)
- Sprung! Integrated Dance Theatre (for their programs focused on developing the skills and experience of emerging artists with disabilities and/or who are Deaf), and
- Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital (which rescues and treats injured and distressed animals).
Michael Jones said these groups will also have stalls in Fawcett Park on the day, raising awareness of what they do, and with people able to answer questions.
‘We always give something to the surf lifesaving club as well, because they help us with the first aid tent, and collecting the ducks.’
Other groups with stalls will include the Ballina Maritime Museum, Department of Primary Industry – Fisheries, and Northern Rivers Animal Services. The Interactors Club (school age Rotarians) will be providing games and competitions for kids.
Anyone who wants to buy duck race tickets in advance can find Rotary Duck Central in its temporary shop at 130 River Street, Ballina on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from 9.45am until 2pm.
Ballina-on-Richmond Rotary’s Jodie Shelley said that as well as the duck race there are quite a few other Rotary events coming up, including a walk in December, a bowls day in October, and their vocation awards on 14 September.
Michael Jones added that the Ballina club were hoping to put in another six emergency accommodation pods, for those who are still homeless after the 2022 floods. ‘It’s just extraordinary that eighteen months later, people are still living in tents, and bare-walled houses,’ he said.
At the same time, Mr Jones believes the bottom up response reflects the positive attitude of the local community, ‘the way everyone pulls together. There’s hardly a person around who hasn’t contributed to providing assistance of some kind.’