A lower turnout in past years hasn't put a damper on the Mighty Muskingum River Raft Race. If anything, the organizers plan to work that much harder to bring the event back to its former glory.
"When the Jaycees did this race, they had close to 100 rafts," said Jesse Daubert with the Friends of the Lower Muskingum River. "We've only had about 11."
This will be the fourth year the organization will host the homemade raft race to benefit its lower Muskingum watershed initiative. But the idea of racing rafts down the Muskingum River originated about 37 years ago with the Marietta Jaycees, an offshoot of the Chamber of Commerce geared toward young men between the ages of 18 and 25.
Photo submitted by Jesse Daubert
The three-man team from the Beverly Water and Sewer Department paddle their raft, fashioned to look like a toilet, during a past Might Muskingum River Raft Race.
Marietta resident Bob Morrison, 58, was president of the organization in 1980-81 and remembers the raft regatta being one big party.
"We had about 75 rafts when I was president. (The Jaycees) always had a raft and we always came in last," he laughed. "We weren't out to win, we were just out for fun."
Morrison said the entries were always creative, including a space shuttle, dragon and outhouse. Trophies were awarded for most original, fastest, primitive and paddlewheel, to name a few.
If you go
What: Fourth annual Mighty Muskingum River Raft Race.
When: Aug. 12, check in at 1 p.m., shove off at 2 p.m.
Where: Beginning at Indian Acres boat ramp, ending at Harmar Bridge.
Entry fee: Corporate, $50; nonprofit and private $25. All proceeds benefit the work the Friends of the Lower Muskingum does on the lower Muskingum watershed.
For information, rules and registration: 374-4170, http://muskingumriver.org or www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-Lower-Muskingum-River/196229222749.
Sam Brooker of Beverly has been both a participant and a spectator. Brooker, who works at the Beverly Water and Sewer Department, was part of the winning team the first and second years of the event and rode behind the race in a safety boat last year.
"Oh, it's a lot of fun," he said.
To allow his team to pull ahead in their white craft, fashioned to resemble a toilet, Brooker said he did what he was told.
"They told me to stroke. We paddled the whole way," he said. "It's a long way."
The race will shove off at 2 p.m. Aug. 12 at the boat ramp at Indian Acres and will end just below the Historic Harmar Bridge. Check-in is at 1 p.m.
"My hope is to make it as big as it used to be. It's going on during the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival and I would like to have some entertainment, make it more of a show," said Daubert. "This is also such a great tool for us to promote the recreational use of the Muskingum."
Daubert said safety is definitely the top priority when it comes to these races.
"We do safety inspections to make sure life vests are used and that there is 50-feet of 3/8-inch tow line connected," he said.