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Annual AdironDuck race raises funds for FFA summer camp


BELFORT — Scores of FFA students throughout the state will be able to attend weeklong sessions at the Oswegatchie Educational Center this summer, thanks to supporters of the 20th annual AdironDuck Race, held Sunday at the Long Point Road camp.

A total of 6,610 rubber ducks — a new event record — were purchased at $5 each, including 1,000 at the event itself, and then dumped into a creek before traveling about a quarter mile along the Oswegatchie River to the finish line. While the “owners” of the first 14 ducks to cross that line are awarded cash prizes, the real winner is the center, because proceeds help fund camp costs, activities and materials each year, according to center Director Todd M. Lighthall.

“For the last couple of years it’s really taken off,” he said. “It’s exploded on us. We sell ducks throughout the state through FFA chapters.”

During the rubber duck race, spectators followed along the creek bed as the sea of yellow traveled down to where another crowd gathered and cheered as it saw ducks come around the final bend.

“It’s the great migration,” one person said, as a majority of the 1,400 people in attendance ran to the finish line.

Duck No. 583 took the lead, which resulted in Megan McGinley winning the grand prize of $2,000. Her duck was purchased through the Indian River Central School District FFA.

More than $6,000 in cash prizes were awarded, as were dozens of door prizes.

While the race was the highlight of the event, the celebration also included a pancake breakfast, entertainment by Troy Wunderle One Man Circus, Adirondack storyteller Bill Smith, an exhibit from the Adirondack Artisans Guild and an ecumenical church service.

Sandy Terry, Beaver Falls, attended the event with her daughter, Courtney, 11, as part of Courtney’s extended birthday celebration.

“It’s really a nice family thing,” she said. “It’s for the young and old; everyone likes it.”

Since it was the Terry family’s first time at the AdironDuck race, they said they will return next year for more fun, and hopefully win the top prize.

Mr. Lighthall said many cash prizes were made possible thanks to multiple event sponsors. Major sponsors included FFA alumni, Oswegatchie Educational Center alumni, United Healthcare Community Plan and the Lowville accounting firm Hirschey & Associates.

Net proceeds of last year’s race were about $35,000, he said. A total from Saturday’s event should be available this week.

The educational center is home to the only FFA camp in the state, Mr. Lighthall said. The leadership camp is open to children ages 11 to 18. Although a majority of attendees are FFA members, Mr. Lighthall said FFA membership is not a requirement for camp.

For more information on the center or summer camp sessions, visit

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