West Bay Rotary Annual Duck Derby

 Peter Berke has endured ribbing from his crew at North Atlantic Painting Company for a few weeks now. It takes a confident guy to drive up to a client's house with a giant wooden duck strapped to the roof of his car, but it's all in good fun to promote West Bay Rotary's upcoming Duck Derby. Note: Due to weather and related tidal conditions this Saturday, May 27.

Berke, owner of North Atlantic Painting Company and a member of West Bay Rotary, said: "In the beginning I got involved with Rotary to promote my business, but as it turns out, I really enjoy the service part of it, the giving back. I never thought I'd be the type of person who would be so involved in this, but once you get involved, it makes you want to give of yourself more."

As for the duck?

"The duck was a combined effort," he said. "My wife, Patty, drew the duck, and my guys in the shop cut out the design and painted it. Then we took it to Adventure Advertising where they made it more like a rubber duck with the signage and decals, just like you'd put on a car."

"This has been a real team effort with everybody in Rotary to get this revived again," he said.

For 21 years, the Duck Derby was an annual springtime event, until its popularity waned for a few years. Recently, there has been interest in reviving it again.

Each raffle ticket bought will correlate to a numbered rubber duck, which will be entered into the Saturday's river race.

"The purpose is to raise money locally through Rotary, so we can funnel it back into local community organizations and nonprofits," said Berke. "As a committee, we decide where it will go, so, for example, it might go to a YMCA-sponsored program, a kids' horse-back riding program or Meals on Wheels."

Fellow Rotarian Mark Masterson, sitting next to Berke said: "Basically what we're going to do is drop 3,500 rubber ducks into Megunticook River, where they'll float down underneath Main Street, over the falls and down to an entrapment we've made at the foot of the falls. It's a wide border with pool noodles and at the end of this is a small aperature, where only one duck can come through. We will have a boat placed there so that each duck's number will be picked up as it goes through and that's how we'll designate who the winners are."

Rest assured, environmentalists, all rubber ducks will be removed from the river when it's over.

"Although, I have to say last year we did get a call from Islesboro or Isle au Haut saying they found a stray duck," said Berke. "But they cost us money, so yeah, we like to get them all back — all our ducks in a row."

Wack Wack.

Prizes for the Duck Derby race include a week's vacation at the deluxe Vanderbilt Resort in Naples, Fla., plus $1,000 cash, or one of several other great prizes, including jewelry from Etienne Perret, dinner for two at Hartstone Inn, a $50 gift certificate to Fresh Restaurant, a two-hour sail for two on the Schooner Olad, a $30 gift certificate to Graffam Brothers Harborside Restaurant, and much more.

Tickets are $5 per duck or 5 ducks for $20 and are available from any West Bay Rotarian, or downtown the day of the event. The event is being sponsored by Camden's West Bay Rotary, the Vanderbilt Beach Resort, Etienne Perret Jewelry, Rockport Automotive and the Hartstone Inn.

Tickets are available at Harbor Video in Camden or the day of the race at French and Brawn in Camden. Launching is scheduled at 2:00 p.m., depending on the tide.