The Estes Park Rotary Duck Race Festival is ready to entertain festival goers of all ages, starting with the Duck Waddle 5K at 9 a.m., followed by live entertainment and activities for children and adults of all ages from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 6.

As every race fan knows, following those little yellow ducks or running a 5K can work up an appetite, so restaurants and coffee shops along the river will be ready to welcome hungry duck fans. Music and other live entertainment, including the ever-popular Duck Squat, will take place outside of Nicky’s Restaurant and Nicky’s Resort from 10 a.m. until the highlight of the day – the dropping of thousands of little yellow rubber duckies into Fall River – at 1 p.m. outside of Nicky’s. More entertainment, including live music, face painting, balloon art, and other activities, will take place at George Hix Memorial Riverside Plaza from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This year, many participating nonprofit and charitable organizations and major sponsors of the Duck Race will set up displays and activities at George Hix Memorial Riverside Plaza from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors to the organizations’ displays will learn about the work they are doing, and enjoy family-friendly, duck-themed activities. Organizations will help guests to purchase online duck adoptions at their tables until 1 p.m.

To keep fans of all ages fully entertained, the festival is planning several hours of live music and activities. “This year features a variety of music for all ages and tastes. A brass quintet, a jazz band, an acoustic rock/folk duo, the Estes Park High School Choir, and an African drum group,” said Karen Thompson, who is coordinating entertainment this year.

A change in ownership at Nicky’s Restaurant will limit space and amenities as the restaurant will not be open. Consequently, most entertainment will be at Performance Park and George Hix Riverside Plaza. We will, however, have the ever-popular Duck Squat at Nicky’s and Riverside Plaza.

The Estes Park High School Choir will kick things off at Nicky’s, followed by a few comments by our Race dignitaries, including Mayor Wendy Koenig and Rotary District Governor and Estes Park native, Lee Varra-Nelson. This will be followed by the dramatic Duck Drop into Fall River.

There is nothing quite like seeing thousands of little yellow ducks fall out of a big cage to begin their paddle to the finish line. “After the drop, the ducks will swim as fast as they can to reach Riverside Plaza in downtown Estes Park,” said Thompson. “Some years, it only takes 30-40 minutes, other years it has been more than an hour. It all depends on how fast or slow the river is flowing.”

Duck Race visitors are encouraged to visit all locations: Nicky’s, Performance Park, and Riverside Plaza. “Estes Park musical groups will perform at all locations and will include Skip Neilson & Karen Nicholson, the Riverside Ramblers, Highland Brass Quintet, and Djembe Jive & Hot Jam. We will have lots to entertain kids and adults.” Thompson said. “What I am most hopeful for is a day of sunshine and warm temperatures. Come and celebrate spring in Estes Park."

New features of the Duck Race Festival this year include an extensive entertainment schedule at Performance Park.

First, Sunny Boy Jim Jack Jones, a children’s musical performer, will perform at noon. Sunny Boy Jim Jack Jones is a children’s music-based wellness program that promotes kindness, care, empathy and unity.

Ballet Renaissance will once again perform in support of the Estes Park Rotary Duck Race Festival with a free community performance on stage at Performance Park at 1:30 p.m., weather permitting. The Performance will feature both adult professionals and Ballet Renaissance students ages 4-14.

They will be followed at 3:00 p.m. by Djembe Jive, a Northern Colorado drumming group. Players perform energetic, four-part rhythms for all to enjoy. Included in their performance will be several numbers by Hot Jam, another NOCO drumming group. The performance will include an opportunity for children from the audience to drum as well as a very fun audience participation number performed in honor of the ducks. Audience and passers-bye be warned! You may be inclined to spontaneous toe tapping, head nodding, or dancing!

Further details about activities will be available at Riverside Plaza on Race Day.

The Race Day schedule will give race fans time to travel to Nicky's for the Duck Drop, drop by Performance Park and return to the finish line in time to watch the little yellow ducks arrive. In addition to live music, Riverside Plaza will offer a host of family activities, including Jasbo the Balloon Artiste, and face painting. The sale of duck-themed merchandise will take place at both venues. The Estes Park Rotary Club also will sell its $10 Friendship Card, which provides discounts at over 80 locations in Estes Park.

Winners will be posted on the duck race website,, and on the livestream broadcast by the Rocky Mountain Channel. First prize is $10,000 cash, with other major prizes of $6,000 cash, $4,000 cash, and two three-night vacation stays for two donated by Delaware North, one at Yellowstone National Park and one at Yosemite National Park. Hundreds of other prizes donated by local merchants will mean lots of winners on Race Day.

“Everyone is excited for the ducks to be racing in Fall River again this year, the 35th annual Estes Park Rotary Duck Race Festival,” said Bill Solms, 2023 Big Duck. “There are 65 great reasons to attend the 2023 Duck Race: to adopt ducks to raise funds for the 64 local nonprofit and charitable organizations that serve needs in the Estes Valley, and – the 65th reason – to have a day full of fun,” he said.

To adopt a duck visit Twenty-two dollars of every $25 duck adoption goes to your selected organization. Ducks may be adopted online until 1:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on May 6.

For an updated schedule of entertainment, visit For more information about the Duck Waddle 5K or to register, see

Can’t make it? Look for the Race on the Rocky Mountain Channel, where it will be streamed live.

The Estes Park Rotary Duck Race Festival is held annually on the first Saturday in May. The Annual Duck Race continues a tradition started in 1989, which has returned over $3 million to local Estes Park charities and groups. 2023 marks the 35th annual Duck Race.

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