Families enjoy Boykins VFD Spring Carnival

Published 11:05 am Saturday, April 18, 2015

The ducks begin their journey to the finish line. -- Cain Madden   Tidewater News

The ducks begin their journey to the finish line. — Cain Madden
Tidewater News

On Saturday afternoon, a crowd of more than 40 people gathered at the bridge that crosses over the Tarrara Creek into Boykins. They were waiting for the approach of 600 rubber ducks.

When the ducks rounded the corner, those gathered did not see the anticipated mass of yellow. That’s because one duck had a substantial lead with a few others tailing at a distance. Duck 388 had an even bigger lead earlier in the approximately 45-minute race, but it ended up getting caught up in some foliage, letting some other ducks catch up. Despite the hang-up, that duck won Amy Nahrebecki $500.

“A catfish must have got our ducks,” said Bonnie Casper of Branchville, who was there with her husband, Steve. “I like it. It’s pretty interesting. We ended up buying a few ducks.”

“It’s for a good cause,” said Mike Livingston, whose wife’s duck was winning for a moment early on. “I’m here to watch for Laurel [Livingston’s wife], who couldn’t be here.”

The race — with the last duck coming in about an hour and 20 minutes after it started — was just one moment from the Boykins Spring Carnival, an event that the town’s Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department hopes becomes annual.

More than 3,000 people showed up over the two-day weekend event, and one of the organizers, Dave Stiglitz, said it was the most successful fundraiser the fire department has ever put on. People are also really excited about next year, Stiglitz said, noting that vendors and bands have already started to contact him. Some are even looking to get in on the race earlier to make sure they have a duck this time.

“The outpouring of support has been amazing,” he said.

Brinkley Entertainment, the carnival company, is also already lined up to return.

“The big concern was the carnival company out of North Carolina,” he said. “We had tried really hard to get a company to come to our first-time event, and the carnival company was happy.”

The company brought rides and midway games for children to play on, including a big slide, a mechanical swing and a ferris wheel. Miss Preteen Franklin-Southampton County Fair Alicia Sickelton, 14, said the children were having a good time on the midway, which was about where the fair queen booth was set up.

“I love it,” she said about the event. “Everything’s been really fun. I like walking around and seeing the little kids. The girls want to be queens when they grow up.”

Janet Joyner with the pageant said they were there to get the word out about the queen and little miss events. She added that registration has already started.

For Ashley Pearce and her daughter, Kaley, who’s 1 and a half, another attraction stood out — one where she got to play with a bunny, a piglet, a calf and goat kids.

“She’s really enjoyed it,” the mother said. “She liked the petting zoo the best.”

Mason Futrell, 4, of Capron, was there with his friend Tucker Stewart, 4, of Courtland. They were there because of the one of the main events — the inaugural firefighter challenge.

“It was good,” Mason said. “It was really good when one of my best friend’s dad won.”

Mason’s brother James, 7, added, “That was really cool. It was really fun when they were trying to push the bucket back and they charged.”

Tucker’s father, James, was participating with the Courtland squad along with Doug Bailey Jr. Firefighting teams had to power a barrel suspended overhead across a line that the other team guarded.

The Boykins Volunteer Fire Department ultimately prevailed in the competition, but Branchville and Courtland put up a fight.

“It was a lot of fun,” James Stewart said. “Next year, it’ll be better. The rules will be more planned out, and it would be nice to have all of the county fire departments out here.”

Branchville came in second, and Capt. Nathan Umphlett, who was on the nozzle the whole time, figured out the strategy that Boykins adopted in the win.

“Yeah, if you charge and let that barrel get behind you — you’re done,” he said. “But I loved it. Next year, I’m going to bring a cable so the barrel doesn’t sag so much.

“I got hit in the head,” Umphlett added with a laugh.

Capt. Anthony Clark took the lead on the winning squad.

“We lost one time and it was because we went in too fast,” he said. “It’s better to advance slowly and let the water do the work.

“It was fun, though. I think everyone did a good job. It took a couple of rounds to figure it out, so it was good that it was double elimination. Next year’s will be even better.”

Of 2016, Lt. Jason Ray said Branchville is going to bring it.

“They may as well go ahead and set the plaque to say Branchville,” he said.

Watching the three money-winning ducks come in and none of them being theirs, Steve Casper wasn’t too down. He said his family had a great time and would be back.

“I thought the band did a really good job,” Casper said of the Bria Kelly Band of Smithfield, which performed on Friday night. “And the grandkids really loved the pony rides.”