Duck dash breaks monotony

DEMING, N.M. — Amid the yucca spikes and wide-open skies of the southwestern New Mexico desert, the ducks are waddling.

The 28th annual Great American Duck Race was held this weekend, the cornerstone of a four-day festival in Deming that also features an outhouse race, tortilla toss, chili cook-off, horseshoe and softball tournaments and more.

There’s a carnival and even a royalty pageant, where residents dress up like ducks.

“It’s all about having fun. It takes care of a lot of boredom,” said Ken Mosher, who stepped away from his job as a plumber and volunteered to assemble the “Duck Downs” racetrack Friday.

Six friends drinking at a bar dreamed up the idea in 1980, including the late Harold Cousland, then editor of the Deming Headlight newspaper.

The idea was to liven up the summer doldrums and bring tourists to Deming. The event is staged at a grassy, tree-shaded park, right under the red-bricked, metal-roofed Luna County Courthouse.

For two decades, participants trained ducks and brought them to Deming to race. But the competition started rising to an uncomfortably serious level for such a tongue-in-cheek event, and eight years ago, the organizers began collecting a pool of their own ducks — 160 this year.

“These ducks are well taken care of,” said Steve Smith, the lead organizer. “They only work two days a year.”

The ducks waddle down an eight-lane, 17-foot channel of chicken wire known as the dry track. In recent years, organizers added a wet track — a wading pool outfitted with eight racing lanes.

Last year, the champions in each category — youth and adult racers — each took home $1,290.

Anyone taking part pays $5 to sponsor a duck, and winners advance through tournament-style brackets. In each round, competitors are assigned a different duck, with all the ducks given time off to rest.

“It’s a random draw,” Smith said. “It’s all luck, no skill at all.”

For more on the Great American Duck Race, go to www.demingduckrace.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

King County map logo
Tribal members dance to start an assemble on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day Friday evening at Tulalip Gathering Hall in Tulalip, Washington on September 30, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘Still here’: Tulalip boarding school descendants celebrate resilience

On Orange Shirt Day, a national day of remembrance, the Tulalip Tribes honored those who suffered due to violent cultural suppression.

Councilmember Megan Dunn, left, stands next to County Executive Dave Somers as he presents his 2023 budget proposal to her, Councilmember Nate Nehring and Councilmember Sam Low. (Snohomish County)
As County Council begins budget talks, here’s how you can weigh in.

Department heads will make their pitches in the next few days. Residents will get a say at a forum and two hearings this month

Representative Rick Larsen speaks at the March For Our Lives rally on Saturday, June 11, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Larsen to hold community meeting in Everett on Monday

The veteran Democratic lawmaker will address recent legislation passed by Congress and other topics.

Everett
Everett gets state Auditor’s Office stewardship award

State Auditor Pat McCarthy presented the award during the most recent Everett City Council meeting.

Food forum
Cookie bars fit for hungry fishermen

Laurie Olsen makes these decadent bars for her fisherman husband and crew aboard the St. John II.

Dan Stucki grabs a free coffee from Espresso Chalet before heading out on his first day to assess the Bolt Creek Fire on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Stucki served as a division supervisor and traveled from Utah to help contain the fire. He's been a firefighter for 21 years. (Taylor Goebel / The Herald)
Gold Bar coffee shop fuels hundreds of firefighters amid Bolt Creek blaze

The massive blaze threatened Espresso Chalet. That didn’t stop owners Mark and Sandy Klein from giving firefighters free cups of coffee.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of Washington state.
$500M-plus from opioid deal starts heading to Washington

The first settlement payments will begin reaching Washington communities in December.

Former television food personality Graham Kerr meets with residents of Windsor Square Senior Living before giving a presentation on Thursday, Sep. 15, 2022, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
At 88, TV chef ‘Galloping Gourmet’ still sizzles with the ladies

Graham Kerr, the granddad of cooking entertainment shows in the 1960s, calls Snohomish County home.

Most Read