Duck races, art and wine festivals, and music in Breckenridge
Ryan Summerlin August 31, 2012
What began 25 years ago with 1,000 little plastic ducks floating down the Blue River has now matured into a full-fledged competition, with about 10,000 ducks bouncing and battling it out to reach the finish line.
The Great Rubber Duck Race raises about $80,000 for The Summit Foundation, an organization that awards scholarships to Summit High School seniors and supports more than 80 nonprofits in Summit, Park, Lake and Grand counties. In June, it gave out $100,000, and this November it will dole out about $600,000 to support the arts, education, health, sports and the environment, according to Elisabeth Lawrence, marketing coordinator. Since its establishment in 1984, it has awarded more than $14.5 million, much of it thanks to the ducks. The Great Rubber Duck Race raises the bulk of those bills.In addition to three races and a duck-decorating contest, The Summit Foundation offers a silver anniversary commemorative duck, as well as a drawing for a wooden-cottage-styled playhouse worth $3,000. Tickets for the drawing are $25; the drawing takes place Saturday.At 1 p.m., the kids’ race kicks off with a real dunk: This year, the Red, White & Blue Fire District will dump the ducks into Maggie Pond from the top of its fire truck.”They’re taking it very serious and testing it out,” Lawrence said, explaining how the firefighters will ensure all the ducks drop at once from a tarp so no duck is at an unfair advantage.Up to 750 ducks – “dressed” as boy or girl skiers – will rain upon the Maggie.Though the kids’ ducks cost double what regular racing ducks do ($10, as opposed to $5), they have an enormously better shot at winning. The Summit Foundation limits the total kids’ ducks to 750 (up from 500 last year, so yes, the competition is getting a little more stiff) and hands prizes to the first 40 or so winning kids. Peak-A-Boo Toys in Breckenridge donates toys for winners, and runners-up receive kid-friendly restaurant certificates, free snow tubing and free ski passes.At 2 p.m., ducks purchased by businesses battle it out for a snowcat trip for 12 at Ski Cooper (donated by 1stBank). As of last weekend, 150 businesses had bought their ducks for $100 a pop; most years, 150-200 business ducks show up for the feisty float.Besides the race, businesses can decorate ducks, which measure 9 inches tall and 12 inches long, and display them at 1stBank in Breckenridge. Winners garner a painting party at Ready, Paint, Fire.The ducks will don their crazy outfits at 1stBank until Friday, and then they’ll strut their stuff on the lawn adjacent to the Riverwalk Center Saturday. Don’t miss these: Hudson Auto Source transformed its duck into a monster truck; Peak-A-Boo made a flamingo; a group of orthopedic surgeons cut theirs open and added bones and joints; and Breckenridge Distillery conjured up a moonshining duck, complete with a barrel of whiskey.The main race starts at 3 p.m., as ducks ride over the waterfall, into the pond and through the Blue River. People arrive in Breck early in the morning to stake out a spot along the river, so be forewarned. Prizes, such as ski passes, a dinner at Keystone Ranch and gift certificates go out to the first 50 or so winners of the regular race. But look out – 8,000-10,000 ducks show up, purchased by the 6,000-7,000 people who participate, Lawrence said.The duck races also include kids’ activities, like a bounce house and face painting, which start at 10 a.m. At 11:30 a.m., Lowe’s Build and Grow workshops helps the first 200 kids build something really cool to take home. The barbecue heats up at 11 a.m.”The atmosphere at the Blue River is so fun,” Lawrence said. “It’s a community tradition.”Info: www.summitfoundation.org
For the 37th year, approximately 100 artists show their finest pieces at the Great Divide Art Festival. It’s the oldest and most prestigious art festival in Breckenridge, said marketing coordinator Karin Bearnarth, and it ranks in the top 50 art festivals in the nation.Mark Beling and Judith Pollock, owners of J&M Jewelry, handpick the artists – and they endure a rigorous selection process, Bearnarth said.”She really only accepts the crme de la crme,” Bearnarth said, “and he travels nationwide (looking for artists).””I love bringing art to the Summit County community and exposing our patrons to the wide variety of artists that are so uniquely talented,” Beling said. “I am very committed to providing the highest quality of juried art shows possible.”Artists include the likes of Kathy Sigle, who visits working ranches and wildlife areas to inspire her paintings; Beth Erlund, who fell in love with batiking after spending over two years in Japan; Ben’ Jamin’ Stielow, a metal wielder who “brings his works to life” and Pietra Wall, a native Italian who, along with her husband, combine leather with stone, copper, shells and wood. Jewelers like Jerry Scavezze and Chris Nelson will showcase their “tiny sculptures,” often set in gold and adorned with gems.Info: www.mountainartfestivals.com
It’s a little hard to believe, but the Breckenridge Wine and Spirits Festival just came aboard the town’s Labor Day festivities a few years ago. And only in the last two years have the spirits arrived.The festival features live music, wine and hard liquor from 10 wineries and five spirit companies throughout the nation – and, of course, the state.”We have added Colorado wines and spirits, and the response has been phenomenal,” Bearnarth said. Ten sampling tickets cost $20 and include a commemorative wine glass. “But, of course, 10 tasting tickets won’t nearly be enough,” Bearnarth said, explaining that additional tasting tickets cost $2. Proceeds benefit the Breckenridge Festival of Film.During the event, Trading Fours Jazz Band, Dru Carter and Warsaw Poland Brothers will perform. Trading Fours features locals Jeremiah Johnson on sax and Peter Taylor on guitar. They’ve brought their jazz and pop tunes to bars and resorts throughout Summit County and have even played at the Breckenridge Jazz and Wine Festival.Dru Carter mixes his original songs with high-energy, acoustic rock.The Warsaw Poland Brothers headline the day with their Celtic, ska, punk and reggae fusion.”The Warsaw Poland Brothers opened the Celtic Festival last year, and they blew everyone away,” Bearnarth said. In the last dozen years, The Warsaw Poland Brothers have inspired a generation of ska/punk musicians, including Slightly Stoopid and Authority Zero. But don’t let the ska scare you: These guys groove from one genre to another, fueled by two trombone virtuosos.In addition to spirits and songs, the Audi pace car from the Pikes Peak Race will be on hand, and artists from the Breckenridge Farmer’s Market will show their wares, including a man who spray paints huge canvases.”It’s one of the last big weekends of summer,” Bearnarth said, “so there is a variety of things for locals and visitors to do on both the north side and south side of town.”Info: www.townofbreckenridge.com