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3RF brings back raft race after 15 years, adds prizes

– After a decade and a half, the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival will again be on the river.

Fifteen years after it was last run, the beloved raft race is returning to the summer festival. Executive Director Jack Hammer announced Friday that not only is the race returning, but it will feature $14,000 in cash prizes, thanks to donations from Hanning & Bean Enterprises and Hotel Fitness.

Hammer said the race will be July 20, with prizes both for the fastest craft and the most creative in both the commercial and non-commercial divisions.

First place will win $2,000, second will bring $1,000 and third is worth $500.

“The spirit of the Three Rivers Festival Raft Race is alive and well with those of us that remember the event,” Hammer said. “For over two decades, the raft race was unofficially heralded as the second-largest spectator event in Indiana, with hundreds of unique homemade rafts and floating contraptions entertaining the throngs of spectators gathered for miles along our riverbanks.”

Friday’s announcement drew not only about a dozen spectators but also the festival mascot, Admiral Andy, and Miss Three Rivers Festival.

“We want to encourage everyone, especially young adults, to get involved,” Hammer said. “Design, build and float your raft.”

Hammer said the route and rules are being worked on and will be posted on the festival’s website, www.threeriversfestival.org.

dstockman@jg.net

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