Duck Day Great weather for the duck race

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This Satur­day’s Waipawa Spring Fes­ti­val — Duck Day — hosts the pre­miere race on the Duck Rac­ing cal­en­dar, and with the day fast ap­proach­ing lo­cal duck train­ers say the field is look­ing bet­ter than it ever has.

While giv­ing noth­ing away about their train­ing meth­ods, train­ers have con­firmed the ducks are in fan­tas­tic con­di­tion lead­ing up to the race, with re­cent flood­ing in the re­gion hav­ing been “great weather for ducks” and higher river lev­els and faster flows ideal for strength and speed work.

This year’s course — pre­pared to per­fec­tion by Hig­gins con­trac­tors — has drawn an even larger field than last year, with 1500 ducks en­tered.

This has de­lighted or­gan­is­ers who say they have had is­sues with run­ning out of ducks in pre­vi­ous years, due to the high de­mand.

This year’s event has also at­tracted ex­tra prize money with the win­ner claim­ing $300, sec­ond place $200 and $50 for third — and last place.

At this stage there are still a few ducks avail­able — in­clud­ing sev­eral race favourites — and tick­ets can be pur­chased at Waipawa Butch­ery, Waipawa Fish Sup­ply, Waipawa Phar­macy and King­fisher Gifts for $2 each, with pro­ceeds go­ing to Ron­ald MacDon­ald House.

For the first time in Duck Race his­tory, there is a new event — the Cor­po­rate Duck Race just be­fore the 1.30pm main event, with busi­nesses hav­ing dec­o­rated their own over­sized rac­ing ducks. This is bound to be hotly con­tested, with the pride of sev­eral lo­cal busi­nesses rid­ing on these ducks’ backs.

To launch the car­ni­val at­mo­sphere, Waipawa’s main street, Nel­lie Jull Park and Cen­tre-Court will be bristling with stalls and en­ter­tain­ment from 9am on­wards.

The prom­ise of a good crowd has drawn stall­hold­ers from far and wide, with of­fer­ings of plants and pro­duce, food and drinks, bar­gains, gifts and cu­riosi­ties. There’s en­ter­tain­ment for the chil­dren, with a new and spec­tac­u­lar Cin­derella Pump­kin bouncy cas­tle, and the Li­ons Club will be crank­ing up the West­pac bar­be­cue and sear­ing sausages as fast as they can fry.

In a twist this year, Adam from The Hits ra­dio sta­tion will be at Duck Day and will pro­vide a real-time on site com­men­tary of the race it­self, while live mu­sic will be de­liv­ered by reg­gae band Heavy Roots.

Old favourites on the day in­clude the Make a Duck com­pe­ti­tion for chil­dren aged two to 16.

■ The Waipawa Spring Fes­ti­val Duck Day, Waipawa CBD, Satur­day Oc­to­ber 13

Duck Race: Tuk­i­tuki River 1.30pm

Spec­ta­tors watch as ducks race for the fin­ish line at the Waipawa Spring Fes­ti­val.

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