Kids cheered Friday from the poultry barn at the Gage County Fairgrounds as they competed in the second annual duck races at the fair.
And even though these were rubber ducks, the kids didn’t seem to mind. In fact, the annual event has been a hit that other counties have now adopted for their own fairs.
“We had them here last year, too,” said Courtney Thomas, organizer of the poultry show at the Gage County Fair. “My finace and I built them last year and then a couple other county fairs liked them and so they borrowed ours last year and built their own this year so they can have them in their own barn, too.”
These rubber duck races are powered by more than gravity.
The setup consists of two opposing stock tanks, each with two pumps and two canals for ducks to race down. The canals each drain into the other tank, creating a loop.
The pumps are powered by hand so the faster you pump, the faster your duck travels and the better your odds of winning the race.
But winning isn’t everything. The game was set up for fun and the only prize is getting to keep your rubber farm animal used in the race.
Thomas said organizers kept track of the winners last year, but learned it was hard to keep track of.
“We did prizes last year but by the time the first kids go through they just want to play in the water and run the stuff through,” she said. “Their prize is they get to keep the duck. They love it and I think they like to keep their ducks because then they can run them as much as they want. We don’t tell them you only get to do it once.”
Thomas added the children enjoy the duck races, as do their parents. Especially for younger kids, sitting though lengthy livestock shows can be tough. The duck races give kids something else to focus on and have fun with.
“They can stay back there and play with it the whole time,” Thomas said. “It usually seems like most of the kids, the little kids, will stay there and play with them instead of being here bugging their parents and wondering when the show’s over. But the 4-Hers like them, too.”