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In 1987 Peggy Reeder, then vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce and Pat Zellmer, owner of the local newspaper began to look for ideas to create an event for the Greers Ferry Lake area. The idea grew out of the need to bring more tourism to the area. Pat Zellmer had come upon the idea of a Cardboard Boat Regatta. A boat, literally, made out of cardboard and not much more.
The idea went over well in Heber Springs that spring and the two ladies put together a Special Events Team. An event on the lake was the “Natural Choice” since Greers Ferry Lake is over 40,000 acres and nestled in the beautiful Ozark Foothills. Harold Reeder, the husband of Peggy Reeder, conducted seminars on how to build a cardboard boat. The event became very competitive as local industry and the businesses of Heber Springs began to build their boats.
The event has received national attention from outlets as diverse as ESPN, the Discovery Channel, and TripAdvisor.
In celebration of the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races’ 30th anniversary, Heber Springs has planned a day-long event on July 30, 2016 at Sandy Beach on Greers Ferry Lake.
Race participants stretch the limits of their ingenuity to design boats made entirely of corrugated cardboard. Not only do these boats, ranging from simple rafts to stunning ships, float, they must also complete four heats around a 200-yard course on Greers Ferry Lake. No other construction materials are allowed except tape, waterproofing, and oars to propel the craft. No wood, no metal, no motors—just cardboard and imagination—a powerful combination that earned the event the coveted Event of the Year Alfie Award from the Arkansas Festivals & Events Association in 2015.
Boat races will begin at 10:00 a.m., with timed heats for both children and adults. The Pride of the Fleet Prize will be awarded to the boat that best combines innovative engineering with artistic design, while the Captain’s Award goes to the team with the greatest spirit and crowd involvement. And of course, the Titanic Award is reserved for the boat with the most dramatic sinking.
There’s plenty of additional fun planned for the day, with a treasure dig, watermelon-eating contest, lucky duck races and a volleyball tournament all on the agenda.
Whether you race your own cardboard boat or just watch them sink or sail, you are sure to have a great day at the lake. Just don’t forget your sunscreen.
Find more information about the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races here or register your cardboard boat here.
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