By Leilani Roberts Ott
David Adams ranks the River Rumba and Cardboard Boat Regatta right up there with one of the most fun events he’s ever attended.
“You’re building a boat out of something you shouldn’t,” Adams said. “We’re racing in cardboard boats that shouldn’t float but they do. It’s just a fun atmosphere.”
The fun starts with the Parade of Boats and Harbor Party from 6:30 to 10 p.m. today at Three Forks Harbor featuring the band Infinity of Tulsa. The main event, River Rumba and Cardboard Boat Regatta, starts with registration and check-in from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday with inflatable rides opening in the Kids Zone at 10 a.m.
Adams, chairman of the event hosted by Exchange Club of Muskogee, is employed with OSU Extension Education for 4-H Youth Development. So he’s working with 4-H members in Muskogee County who are building their boats in addition to being in charge of the big event. Some clubs have brought their boats to the 4-H Building on the Muskogee Fairgrounds for the final touches while the Muskogee 4-H Club is building its boat there.
Madison Blair, 15, president of the Muskogee 4-H Club, said club members come together to build the boat. They’ve come up with a design that will “let it go faster.”
“We haven’t sank yet,” she said.
The club has participated several years during the sixth annual event. There is an award paddle that moves from club to club representing different competitions. Club members and adult leaders work on the boats. Some will cheer from the river banks and others will ride in the boat.
“Everybody would like to be on the boat,” Blair said.
Brendan Crotty, 11, used the end of a small paint brush to seal the glued tape to the boat. It’s his first year to help. On the other side of the boat of a work day was Kira Cogdill, 9, wearing a white apron to protect her clothing from the glue.
“I’m going to ride in it,” she said as she focused on placing tape on the boat.
When asked if she as afraid of it sinking, she said, “Not so much.”
Adams said members are doing a lot of work to seal the boat using drywall tape and contact cement. Once that is finished and dry, the boat is painted. Each boat from the different 4-H Clubs in the county has a business sponsor like Edward Jones, McDonald’s or Armstrong Bank. The businesses help the club with buying supplies.
“Making a big cardboard boat is not normal,” Natalie Armstrong, 11, said. “I want to ride in it. It sounds funny.”
Adams said the regatta is a family event that raises money to help kids. So far, about $15,000 has been raised through sponsorships and another $5,000 is hoped to be made on Saturday. A new category has been added this year called the “Connors One Day Challenge.”
“We’ll provide two rolls of duct tape and 10 sheets of cardboard,” Adams said. “They’ll have four hours to build it.”
The team members can bring whatever they want with them to build the boat but it will be built at Three Forks Harbor Saturday. That race will be the last one of the day at about 1 p.m.
In addition to the new event, Adams expects about 40 to 45 boats to race through the day in different heats.
“We’ve got some neat boats,” he said. “Firstar is doing super heros like Batman and Robin in a batmobile.”
Blair said she is ready to paddle the 4-H boat.