CROGHAN — If it squeaks like a duck and floats like a duck and falls from a bridge into a creek, it must be the 26th annual Adiron-Duck Race to benefit the Oswegatchie Educational Center on Long Pond Road.
This year, however, instead of people going to the race, the race will come to people via live streaming on Facebook to ensure rubber ducky sponsors and admirers aren’t in harm’s way.
With the rapidly changing limits put on public gatherings over the past six weeks — from no more than 500 people, to no more than 50, to no more than 10 — center Executive Director Todd Lighthall said after some discussion the staff realized there may still be a way to have the race. After all, some duck race is better than no duck race.
“I think people still want to be entertained and diverted,” Mr. Lighthall said, noting the popularity of livestreamed performances by local musicians and national performers as examples, “This is like a rite of Spring for a lot of people.”
Like in the 25 years of Adiron-Duck races past, as many ducks as people sponsor for $5 each will be dropped into the Oswegatchie River where they will float-race on the current downstream until they cross the finish line. Mr. Lighthall said the staff decided if they are able to get 5,000 ducks in the water they will consider it a success.
The first 13 ducks to finish will win their sponsors cash prizes between $100 and the first place haul of $2,000. All of the cash prizes were donated by event sponsors.
A limited number of silver ducks are available for sponsorship again this year for $50 instead of last year’s $100, and there will be only one prize in the race-within-the-race: $2,500 for the first silver duck to finish. Silver ducks are also eligible to win prizes for placement in the larger race.
While the Adiron-Duck Race is quirky, good fun, Mr. Lighthall said it is also the most important fundraising event of the year for the camp, but never more so than this year.
The FFA education center will have lost an estimated $30,000 in revenue by the end of April due to canceled events by various groups renting the center for the purpose, he said.
Normally, the sale of ducks in the race alone brings in an average of about $35,000, with half going to FFA chapters for “Duck Bucks” that can be used to pay for a student that couldn’t otherwise afford the summer camp or other goods and services the center offers according to its website.
The other half is used to stock the camp with everything it needs for the season, while the proceeds from silver duck sponsorships will be used this year to go toward the remaining $300,000 still needed for the $3 million dining hall renovation project that is underway.
Mr. Lighthall said he and the board are aware, however, that considering the current health crisis and the economic impact it is having, asking people to donate even $5 to sponsor a duck for summer camp is “horrible”, but they feel they have to try.
“We always say the Oswegatchie magic comes from people,” Mr. Lighthall said, “Hopefully people will get online and help us bring that Oswegatchie magic to more people.”
If the health crisis continues and even summer camp becomes delayed for a season, the center’s team has been discussing ways to use whatever money is raised to support the community.
Although the center is owned and operated by the New York State FFA Foundation, Inc., a non-profit, its programs are open to any group, organization or individual. Center programs seek to “foster leadership development, environmental education and outdoor recreation in a quality experiential learning atmosphere.”
For more information or to sponsor a duck, go to www.adironduckrace.com or call 315-346-1222.