Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Raft race celebrates Ohio River heritage

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        RISING SUN — They'll drag anything they can find down to the riverfront June 2, regardless of whether it will float.

        The first “Great Ohio River Homemade Raft Race” will be held 2-5 p.m. at the end of Fifth Street.

        But this race will be different. Rafts must be made of any material not intended to float, including “Barbie townhouses, bathtubs, abandoned Volkswagens, bed frames and garbage cans,” said race chairwoman Barb Anderson.

        “At one time or another, most of us who grew up in this town made something that would float on that river,” she said. “Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't.”

        For the race, inflatable items, including air mattresses, must be enclosed by material that won't float. Items that won't qualify include boats, manufactured floating devices (such as pontoons) and life rafts.

        “We're not looking to set any records here,” Ms. Anderson said. “This is all for fun.”

        The race celebrates the community's river heritage. Judges at the finish line will determine the winners in several categories. Scout troops can also earn merit badges by helping construct the rafts.

        The event is a feature of the Rising Sun Blue Jeans on Main Festival. It takes its name from a Broadway play and later a silent film called Blue Jeans that represented life in rural Indiana in the early 1900s, said Jerri Worthington of the Rising Sun-Ohio County Tourism Bureau.

        Proceeds will benefit the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Indiana Chapter and the Blue Jeans Scholarship Fund at Rising Sun High School.

        Ms. Anderson said the race will take up the equivalent of about four blocks on the river — in fairly shallow water. Volunteers of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will hover close to pick up any crew whose raft sinks.

        “Rising Sun has sent challenge letters to other communities and the casinos in the area,” she said. “We're hoping to compete with the people from Rabbit Hash, Ky., across the river from Rising Sun. Now that's rivalry.”

        For information the festival and race, call the Rising Sun-Ohio County Tourism Bureau at (812) 438-4933.



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Local Digest
- Raft race celebrates Ohio River heritage
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