LOCKPORT -The 17th Annual Riverfest celebration at Lockport Launch culminated in a dazzling fireworks display Saturday evening, much to the enjoyment of hundreds of individuals who love a good show, good music and good food.
The three-day affair drew hundreds of area residents and visitors to the fair, the festival food, the vendor booths, the annual cardboard boat race and to what many consider the major event - the duck derby.
Riverfest started 17 years ago with the Dunnstown Fire Co. and four vendors, said Marie Selfe, a township supervisor and Riverfest co-chairperson.
The “Maelstrom” team representing Mom’s Inc. Daycare, earned the title of best theme for a show of creativity and costumes in this year’s Cardboard Boat Race at Riverfest. The participating vikings in various age classifications included Dallas Alexander, Ben Herrick, Kadin Lewis, Evan Spangler, Max Pase, Forest Seybold, Turner Mader and Katie Pase.
The Duck Derby is the primary fundraiser; ducks bought for $5 float downriver, and the first 100 to cross a finish line win prizes.
The grand prize is $1,000 cash.
This year's grand prize winner was retired police officer Tom Winters of Blanchard.
"I was certainly surprised," Winters said. "There were a lot of things going on this weekend, so I was at the Arts Festival when they finally got hold of me."
Winters said he'll be using the cash to finance a trip to a family outing in Arizona in the near future."
Winters, now a full-time police instructor for the state, said he's been enjoying his new duties, especially since he's realized the extra benefit not known to many law enforcement officers - He has the weekends off.
He bought the winning ticket as an "anomaly," he said.
"I only got a duck because my girlfriend wanted one so bad," he said. "I showed up to pick up a pink duck for Kirstin (Sager) and I got a blue one for myself .... She was also quite surprised when I won."
Also winners, of secondary prizes, were a multitude of duck sponsors, many of whom thronged the sales tent in the aftermath of the race to see if their names would be placed next to any of the sponsored gifts from local merchandise.
The duck race itself was a slow, lumbering affair this year, made all the more sweet to the winners by the wait.
The blue, purple, yellow, pink and orange ducks were gently herded in the right direction by scuba diver Rich Best and his crew, into the waiting arms of a contingent of volunteers.
According to Marie Selfe, festival co-chairman and township supervisor, the fasted race measured in at about 10 minutes as a result of a good tailwind. This year, it took the winning duck 34 minutes to cross the finish line.
All the proceeds benefit Riverview Park in Woodward Township.
Earlier in the day, a large crowd gathered along the bank of the Susque-hanna River, and the nearby Veterans Bridge, to watch a series of wobbly cardboard watercraft brave the choppy waters and make their way from near the bridge to the boat dock.
Each series of races were enjoyed by the audience, but the clear fan favorites were the tourneys in which the youngest competitors tried their best to make somewhat floatable vehicles move in the right direction.
And yes, there were some sinkers. A few of the boats proved unseaworthy. A few of the contestants went down with the ship.
Each of these received resounding applause and a standing ovation from a devoted crowd fans, in recognition of valiant efforts and comic ends.