Homemade rafts, some cobbled together with ever popular duct tape, compete every year in a three mile race down the Ottauquechee River just east of Woodstock, in east-central Vermont. The river runs parallel to Route 4 and passes through hilly country as it heads toward the Connecticut River. No commercially manufactured hulls are permitted and all rafts must be self propelled with poles, homemade oars, and paddle wheels. Sails are permitted, though few people use them.
The fast flowing river is filled with boulders in places, making challenging navigation, especially if your raft is not that "seaworthy". Upsets in the frigid water are common. Since this is a spring race, the water, mostly coming from the nearby Killington ski resort further west, is just around the freezing mark.
Contestants are advised to wear helmets and life vests, but full force regulations haven't quite permeated this event which is very laid back, in typical Vermont fashion. In a way, the event which has been going on for more than 30 years, is a celebration of the arrival of spring.
Our slide shows are from the 33rd annual raft race which took place on Saturday, May 5th, 2007 and Saturday, May 3rd, 2008 for the 34th annual. You can expect future events to be held around the first weekend in May in future years.
- Click here for the 34th Annual Bridgewater Raft Race held in 2008 (Slide Show)
- Click here for the 34th Annual Bridgewater Raft Race held in 2008 (Movie)