NEIHART — After a successful auction on day one, the 'I Heart Neihart' Festival opened day two with a community-wide breakfast and rubber duck race.
The premise is simple. You buy a rubber duck, and then the ducks are dumped into the creek. The people with the fastest ducks win prizes. It is a fun event that promotes the small town and helps it continue to thrive, as all the proceeds go back into the town.
“Lots of people show out,” Charley Willett, the head duck race organizer said. "There's only I think there's like about 50 people here that live here all year long. Most people come up for their cabins and stuff and, you know, a small community like this, all these fundraisers that we do help support the fire department, the community center, all different projects around the town. We love having people come out.”
Hundreds of adults and children alike lined the banks of the creek and the top of the bridge that served as the finish line of the race. After the hundreds of ducks had flowed through, many young kids jumped into the cold water to help clean up any remaining ducks.
After the prizes were handed out, the town migrated to Neihart Community Park for the annual softball game. The game is played between Neihart and Monarch, another town about a dozen miles away. The tradition has stood for more than twenty years, and has some interesting rules to keep it exciting.
“Each one of those teams has about 30 to 50 people in it, and everybody plays defense,” Willett said, “Nobody sits on the bench on defense. So, you have 30 to 50 outfielders versus the batter, which is a lot of fun, and somehow still the score gets outrageous.”
If you are not playing softball, you can watch the game and eat some food at the community potluck.
The I Heart Neihart Festival held an auction on Saturday with the “Inconvenience Store” to raise money for the store and begin the weekend celebrations.
“That store is such a staple in our town,” Willett said, “It’s the only [place] you can get bread and milk and all the good stuff that we need, otherwise we have to go all the way to town, and so we really appreciate everybody who came out, everybody who donated, because all the proceeds go into the store.”
The festival concludes Sunday night with live music at Bob’s Bar in Neihart. The weekend celebration benefits the town and its citizens alike.
“Something's happening, it's awesome,” Willett said, “Like, everybody loves it. Everyone's in a good mood.”
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