Inaugural Rubber Duck Race Will Be Held In Flanders

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Community members are expected to flock to the Flanders Men’s Club on Saturday, August 24, to take a “quack” at the prizes offered to the top three finishers of the inaugural Big Duck rubber ducky race.

The new event is being sponsored by the Friends of the Big Duck, the nonprofit community organization dedicated to preserving the famous Flanders landmark and the property that surrounds it, known as the Big Duck Ranch. The race will begin promptly at noon and the duckies will compete on Reeves Bay.

Fran Cobb, the president of the organization, explained this week that all proceeds from the event will help the group realize one of its long-standing goals: the establishment of a museum documenting the history of duck farming on Long Island.

In January, the Southampton Town Board applied for a $9,500 grant from Suffolk County that, if secured, would be invested in creating a museum inside a small building that sits behind the Big Duck. Ms. Cobb said the organization has been collecting duck farming artifacts from the region for years, but has no place to display them.

Community members interested in reserving a rubber duck for the race can do so for $5 each. Call the Friends of the Big Duck at (631) 727-5342. Organizers have sold more than 200 rubber ducks as of last Thursday, August 15.

“We have been hustling trying to sell these little $5 duckies,” Ms. Cobb said this week.

The lucky duck who comes in first on Saturday will take home $200 cash, while the runner-up will receive a $100 gift certificate to the Old Mill Inn restaurant in Mattituck. The person whose duck comes in third will win two tickets to a show at the recently refurbished Suffolk Theater in downtown Riverhead.

Each participant will also be offered complimentary ice cream from the Bungalow Bar ice cream truck.

Members of the Riverhead High School rowing team, who have agreed to volunteer their services during the fundraiser, will toss the numbered rubber ducks into the water from one of their boats. Volunteers in another boat a short distance away will await the top three finishers. Ms. Cobb explained that the length and exact location of the race course will depend on the tide and wind conditions on Saturday.

Suffolk County was once home to many duck farms, including one at the Big Duck Ranch property off Flanders Road in the 1930s. Martin Maurer built the Big Duck in 1930 as a way to advertise the ducks he sold in Riverhead. The structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as are the surrounding property and barns.

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