The North Fork of the Gunnison River was crawling at 19 cfs Saturday for the first ever North Fork Rotary Club Ducky Derby fundraiser. The first, second- and third-place ducks, which floated downstream on their sides, took about 10 minutes to cross the finish line roughly 100 feet downstream of the Paonia River Park. Spectators and Rotary volunteers were on hand to nudge the ducks along when they got stranded behind rocks and caught in eddies. The Paonia Volunteer Fire Department brought a tanker truck down to the riverside to add a few extra gallons to the flow and speed things up.
The winning duck's ticket-holder was Jen Brunner of Paonia, who took home $300. Jill and Dave Knutson placed second to win $125, and Cindy Wegner won $75 after placing third with lucky duck No. 13.
The event included a fundraiser lunch featuring local food and beverages. Proceeds will help fund travel costs for Paonia High School sports teams and the Rotary Club of the North Fork Valley Foundation, which awards scholarships annually to North Fork area high school seniors. Rotary members sold more than 400 tickets for the derby and are already planning to make next year's event bigger and better.
The Rotary Club meets for lunch and a program at noon every Thursday at Paonia Town Hall. Cost is $10. This week's guest speaker is Jason Clecker, CEO of Delta County Memorial Hospital, who will give an update on the successes and challenges for DCMH.