Adam Spencer, The Triplicate

Once a year, a colorful, costumed crowd descends on a crystal-clear stretch of the Smith River for a family-fun day of paddling Gasquet's main waterway.

The 44th annual Gasquet Raft Race, hosted by the American Legion, is this Saturday with registration starting at 10 a.m. at the Gasquet forks, also the starting place for the race.

The past two races garnered record-breaking participation of 174 and 200 racers, respectively. The after-race event at Gasquet's American Legion Post #548 will feature live music, deep-pit barbecue, a children's fun bus, vendors, raffles, a silent auction, a dunk tank and beer from local breweries, from noon until 5 or 6 p.m.

The race finishes at the Mary Adams Peacock Bridge Access. All rafters must register by 11:40 a.m., as races begin at noon. Cost is $15 per racer and includes an official Gasquet Raft Race T-shirt.

The race can be quite the spectacle even from the sidelines, with racers dressed up as everything from Marge Simpson to cavemen. The most coveted awards go to the best decorated raft and best costume, although awards will also be given to the fastest paddler in each category.

Categories are: Inflatable kayak (ages 12-35 and ages 36+), oar/ paddle-driven raft (ages 12-16, ages 17- 40, and ages 41+)hand-paddled raft (ages 12-16, ages 17- 40,and ages 41+).

A limited amount of inflatable inner-tubes will be for sale in three sizes at the start of the race for $5, $10 and $15.

The deep-pit barbecue uses donated meat from Taylor's Sausage Company that is marinated for days in a recipe passed down through the American Legion.Cost is $8.50 per plate.

For more information, includingvendor space, call 707-954-1836 or check out the Gasquet Raft Races Facebook page.

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