August 11, 2017
The Great Drake Park Duck Race
By: Todd Wisniewski
For one afternoon every September, the Deschutes River is filled with a rainbow of rubber ducks. The Great Drake Park Duck Race is a beloved end-of-summer tradition in Bend, Oregon that helps raise money for local charities. Since the inaugural race in 1989, this playful and quirky event has raised over one million dollars to help support local children and families in need. This year, the 29th annual race will occur on Sunday, September 9th, 2018. Put it on your calendar if you want to experience one of the most unique events showcasing the generosity and fun-loving spirit of the Central Oregon community.
But what exactly is the Great Drake Park Duck Race? Well, it’s pretty simple. We liken it to horse racing, only with rubber ducks instead of horses, and all the money going to a good cause. Before the big day, you purchase a $5 Duck Ticket for the race. One ticket=one duck. The more tickets you buy, the more likely you are to win. You can either buy single tickets or purchase tickets in bundles up to $100. At 1:30 in the afternoon on the day of the event, thousands of rubber ducks will be launched into the river from the Galveston Bridge in Drake Park, turning the always lovely Deschutes into a candy-colored explosion of rubber ducks all floating towards the big finish line. Whichever ducks cross the finish line first win a prize. By entering the race, you are eligible to win everything from diamond earrings or a $20,000 voucher toward the purchase of a new car, to Old Mill or Downtown “bucks” that can be spent at any shop in the Old Mill District or Downtown.
Even if you don’t win a prize, there are plenty of fun things to do at the park during the day. The event opens at 11:00 am, and includes live music, food vendors, activity booths, and bouncy houses. A free Kids version of the race also begins at noon. The Race is set at beautiful Drake Park in downtown Bend, one of Bend’s most popular public parks. This large, tree-filled park is located right on the Deschutes and only a short walk from the central downtown shopping area. It is a favorite local spot for floating, sunbathing, or taking leisurely strolls along the lovely waterfront paths. If you don’t make it to the Duck Race, you should still add Drake Park to your Bend travel itinerary.
If you are in Bend during the weekend of September 8-9, why not swing by Drake Park to witness this unique Central Oregon event? You’ll get to join a fun event that brings the community together, help raise funds for a good cause, and who knows, maybe even win a voucher for a brand new car.
The 29th annual Great Drake Park Duck Race happens on Sunday, September 9th from 11:00 am to around 3:30 pm. This year, all of the proceeds from the Duck Race will go to the following charities:
- J Bar J Boys Ranch
- Bethlehem Inn
- Casa of Central Oregon
- The Kids Center
- Mountain Star
- The Giving Plate
- Shepherds House
Visiting Bend? Book a stay at the Pine Ridge Inn. Our great location overlooking the Deschutes is the perfect home base for all your Central Oregon adventures.