‘A special year’: Annual duck race fundraiser this Sunday | TheUnion.com

‘A special year’: Annual duck race fundraiser this Sunday

The 49er Rotary Club will hold the organization’s 30th annual duck race on Sunday, with money raised by the event going toward a variety of nonprofit organizations and service projects, according to club president John Baker.

The duck race will kick off at noon, starting at Deer Creek, just off Broad Street in Nevada City, Baker said. The race, which will be livestreamed on the club’s Facebook page, will give out awards to the top three finishers: $2,500 to the winner, $1,000 to second place, and $500 to the third place finisher.

Tickets ($5 each) for the event can be bought Sunday at the race itself or in advance by reaching out to a Rotary club member directly, according to the club’s website.

While the number of attendees watching the duck race in person is expected to be significantly less than a regular year due to the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Baker said that the event is nonetheless expected to raise a considerable amount of funds for the service projects of selected organizations.

“Over the past 29 years we’ve raised around $875,000 through this function, which we’ve returned to the community through service projects and donations to various nonprofit organizations,” Baker said.

The Rotary club president added that last year’s duck race raised money for a respiratory program run by Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, Nevada Union High School students, and a local youth culinary program, among other projects.

The donations from the 2020 duck race made a considerable impact in particular on Nevada Union students by allowing the school district to purchase internet hotspots for families to make distance learning more accessible, Baker said.

“This year’s targets for donations will be very similar to last year…we’ll be donating to a variety of youth programs, hospitals, and other such projects,” he said.


The duck race does not involve actual live ducks. Instead contestants float plastic ducks provided by event organizers down Deer Creek for the competition. Those who want to attend the event in person can watch the race while enjoying food, drink, music, and games in the Century 21 Cornerstone Realty parking lot nearby the creek, according to a description of the event on the Rotary club’s website. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Baker said this year the Rotary club is encouraging people to attend the event virtually by watching the Facebook livestream of the race.

The event’s longtime success speaks to not only the commitment and dedication of the club itself, but even more so to the generosity and selflessness of Nevada County residents whose donations have kept the tradition going for so long, Baker said.

“With this being the 30th annual race, this is really a special year for us — not very many fundraisers last for 30 years, so that just really speaks to the generosity of the Nevada County community,” he said.

The preliminary duck races will begin at noon Sunday, and the top 40 finishers in these competitions will then compete in a grand finale race for the top prizes at 3:30 p.m., according to the 49ers’ event webpage.

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at swyer@theunion.com

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