Meridian Star


May 25, 2014

Chunky River Raft Race & Festival set for June 7

MERIDIAN —     CHUNKY – Whether it be accomplished with logs, sealed barrels or pontoons, “creative floatability” will be the name of the game as raft-crafting river enthusiasts take to the water June 7 for the Chunky River Raft Race & Festival.

    A $200 cash prize for the "Most Creative Raft" will keep the competition interesting, if not entertaining. Starting at 10 a.m., the family-friendly festival will feature an assortment of activities for all ages, including races with prizes and trophies, live music, food and concessions. Preserving the Chunky River, though, is what organizers Rick and Jim Lewis say it’s REALLY all about.

    With the help of the East Mississippi Foothills Land Trust, Rick said educating the public on river conservation was the main goal in reviving the annual event, which resurfaced just last year after a 15-year hiatus. In keeping with that goal, the theme chosen for the 2014 race is “Don’t be Mean to the Green, Keep the River Clean.”

    “Our goal is to get families back outside,” Rick explained. “We want people to get on the river and have a good time, but we also want to communicate to people, and especially to our youth, the importance of preserving the river,” he said.

    The Chunky River Raft Race began in the 1980s with local groups building rafts and floating the river they loved in a competitive nature. Eventually, the race became more organized with raft teams traveling throughout Mississippi. The last River Raft Race was in 1998. Chunky Shoals Fish Camp re-established the River Raft Race in 2013.

    Aside from the raft race, festival activities include arts and crafts booths, a water-themed kids’ play area, canoe and kayak races, a charity duck race to benefit East Mississippi Animal Rescue, and a River Rodeo with a bronco barrel ride, kayak obstacle course and a barrel race. Rubber ducks for the charity race may be purchased for $5 each at Chunky Shoals Fish Camp and at Chunky River Harley Davidson. Live music will be provided by RC Hill and Fatback.

    Race time is 10 a.m., with raft judging taking place just prior to the start of the race around the famous “7-Mile Bend,” from the first Chunky River Landing down to Chunky Shoals Fish Camp. The race is split into four classes: Kayak, Canoe, Homemade Raft and Jon Boat Pick-Up. First, second and third place trophies will be awarded in each class, with a Grand Trophy to go along with the cash prize for the "Most Creative/Innovative Raft."

    Raft race entry fees are $20 per person, with a portion of the fees going to the East Mississippi Foothills Land Trust, a non-profit group focused on preserving Mississippi resources for future generations by keeping the Chunky Riven clean and protected. To register your raft in the race, call (601) 655.8311.

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