New Richmond, OH – August 2015 – Cardboard Boat Races

As noted previously this was the one quirky event I really wanted to check out, the Cardboard Boat Races. The town of New Richmond is on the Ohio River east of Cincinnati. The easy route there is back down I-71, but that wouldn’t be any fun so we took the backroads through Lebanon and Georgetown.

In Georgetown we visited the home and school of U.S. Grant. While he was born in nearby Point Pleasant, it is Georgetown where he was raised and educated. After our brief stop we continued on down to the river.

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We reached New Richmond late morning and found a convenient parking space near the center of town. I had read that the International Cardboard Boat Regatta typically draws 5,000 to 6,000 spectators to New Richmond’s Ohio Riverbank.

We met the race committee chairman Ray Perszyk, who’s better known as “Cardboard Ray”, at the museum located in an old gas station. The unusual regatta is sponsored by the Cardboard Boat Museum, a quirky little attraction in downtown New Richmond that bills itself as the world’s only cardboard boat museum. The cardboard regatta’s 200-yard race course offers 27 trophies for everything from Snappy Dresser for best team costume to the crowd-pleasing Titanic trophy for most dramatic sinking.

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Unfortunately, the number of competitors in the latter category has dwindled in latter years, organizers say, as participants have gotten more experienced at building compex watercraft.

Past race creations on display at the museum include “Miracle on the Ohio,” a takeoff on the 2009 “splash landing” of a passenger jet on the Hudson River, as well as a bat boat, a replica of the Delta Queen, a 10-foot long guitar, a model of the S.S. Minnow from “Gilligan’s Island” and an oversized coffee cup.

After walking down Main Street where all of the festival vendors were located, we proceeded down to the ‘dock’, which was the muddy banks of the Ohio River. Along the banks sat all of the boats, ready to race. The collection was interesting, and very creative.

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Some of the more interesting ones were a submarine, an Ohio State paddlewheel, hot rod car, a lego man skiing behind a ‘jet ski’, and a topside shoe.

True to the comment about construction improving too much, there were far too few sinkings, but the Lego Man went down at the start with an impressive flounder and submersion.

Most of the boats actually looked like boats, including one from North Dakota and another from Boston. It turned out to be more competitive than I expected in all categories, including the kids.

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The highlight of the competition was the topsider shoe, not for his stunning speed, but for the artistic look of his boat, and for his true mission, heading out to the large collection of spectator boats to mooch beer.

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While most of the boats had creative names, such as ‘Lator Gator’, and airboat, and the aforementioned North Dakota boat, the Hockey Monkeys, my favorite was the ‘Floater’, complete with a roll of toilet paper as the bow mast. The event was all I expected, and I plan on going back next year.