A race for ducks

Every year at Happy Wanderer, there’s a duck race down the river, where wanderers cheer on their plastic pals, dogs attempt to steal them and one duck is pronounced winner, then a band wades in and plays in the river. It’s wonderful. And strange.

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The other directors sure thought it was strange when Mark Foletta, resident farmer and rubber duckie wrangler pitched it. He got the idea from a friend who mentioned they used to have leaf and stick race down the river. “I thought we could race rubber duckies, so it's a bit easier to determine a winner. The festival falls on Melbourne Cup weekend so it could be called the Melbourne Duck. I still remember the boys were like, ‘Duck race? What are you on about?’”

“Anyway, it ended up being a real highlight.” Wanderers are also attached to their ducks. One year Trevor, a classic yellow rubber duck was retired. When it came to auctioning the ducks for the race, the crowd weren’t pleased. “There was someone in the crowd, that actually was heckling me, going, ‘Where's Trevor?’”, says Mark.

 Mark with Trevor.

Mark with Trevor.

Out of a field of 26 ducks, one little pink duck has managed to win the race two years running. The ducks were named five years ago when the directors were a little bit more rambunctious, so this fast little pink duck is inexplicably named G-string. For reasons unknown, it’s won two years running and came in at least top-five every year.

 2015 winner G-string with owner Zoltan. Image: Brendan Tonkin. 

2015 winner G-string with owner Zoltan. Image: Brendan Tonkin. 

The duck auction helps raise funds to keep the festival running – the directors and organising committee are all volunteers, and the directors help fund the festival.

So there you go.