Ahoy Mate! - The Milk Jug Raft Race is Back!
-By Meredith Morgan
Community groups can leave the rat race and join the raft race at this year's RIVERDAYS festival, where a milk jug raft competition will combine recreation and recycling.
Midland organizations, as well as families and groups of friends, are invited to enter milk jug watercraft. On July 19 at 3 p.m., the recycled regatta will set sail under the M-20 bridge, racing to the Tridge. Sponsored by the Midland Area Community Foundation and Midland Volunteers for Recycling, the event marks the return of a Riverdays tradition.
According to Bonnie McManus, the Foundation's Events and Volunteers Coordinator, the race is back by popular demand.
"We heard members of the community saying they missed the race," McManus said. "We're excited to bring it back. It's really a fun challenge."
Groups are encouraged to register for the race soon. Before July 8, the entry fee will be $10, increasing to $15 through the day of the competition. Rafts must be constructed in advance; milk jugs must provide essentially all buoyancy, and no motors are allowed. Participants must bring appropriate safety gear and adhere to competition regulations. Sign-up forms and a list of rules are available online at /MilkJugRaftRace.htm
Midland Volunteers for Recycling, located at the Midland Landfill at 4305 E. Ashman, is offering screw-top milk jugs as supplies last. Esther Seaver, the organization's director, said the competition encourages teamwork and creativity. Past participants have engineered a variety of vessels, from a Viking ship to a "yellow submarine."
"The nice thing about the race is that it brings out a lot of community groups, who can get involved and work together," Seaver said.
This year, participants will vie for "fastest raft" and "most creative raft" titles. A special "Milk Dud" award will give even rickety rafts a chance at glory. But the race is less about winning or losing, Seaver said, and more about an afternoon of fun.
"People really enjoy this event," she said. "Everyone has a great time."
By drawing attention to Midland’s waterways, McManus added, the race reinforces a key goal of the Riverdays festival.
"A main purpose of Riverdays is to highlight the river and its history. The race brings everyone down to the banks to celebrate just that."
For more information, call Midland Volunteers for Recycling at (989) 631-1668.