Quakin’ and (Ka)Yakin’
River Races and Festivals along the Naugatuck

For 2012 event details including dates and contact information
check out the
Community Event Calendar.

Naugatuck River Duck Day & Race (Downtown Naugatuck)
20,000 ducks will float down the Naugatuck during the Duck Day Race, but only one will be declared the winner!
Photo courtesy of the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce.

The Naugatuck River Duck Day & Race began in 2006, when the Naugatuck Chamber of Commerce came up with the idea to create a new community and business event. That event, known as ‘Duck Day,’ now boasts the largest duck race in Connecticut! During the day, downtown Naugatuck is transformed with food and craft vendors, live music and entertainment, and the day’s highlight - a race starring 20,000 rubber ducks! Due to the success of the event, the Naugatuck Chamber has contributed over two hundred thousand dollars to the participating non-profit community.

Duck Day is a collaboration between the Naugatuck Chamber, Waterbury Regional Chamber and the Borough of Naugatuck. The mission is to create a safe, fun day to bring the community together for a great cause. Visit the Duck Day and Race website to learn more.

Beacon Falls Riverfest & Duck Race (Downtown Beacon Falls)images.jpeg
The Beacon Falls Riverfest and Duck Race began back in 1999 when the Beacon Falls Lions Club organized its first Rubber Duck Race on the Naugatuck River. The Duck Race grew in popularity and now includes a larger River Festival with crafts, food, and entertainment throughout the day. The event supports the Beacon Falls Lions Club and the Beacon Falls Lioness Club. The Festival also marks the kick-off of Fire Safety Week, organized by Beacon Hose Company #1.

A paddlers navigate the river during the annual Naugatuck Valley River Race. 
Naugatuck Valley River Race (Waterbury to Beacon Falls)
The first Naugatuck River Race was started by Jim Troyer and Kevin Zak in 2006. It was an effort to bring awareness of the Naugatuck River's continued restoration and return to a recreational destination after years of industrial neglect.  The 6.0-mile down river kayak and canoe race spans the Naugatuck River between Platts Mill Road in Waterbury and the Depot Street Bridge in Beacon Falls. (During average race conditions, the race course is considered class II waters.) The race, which champions the slogan ‘The River is the Winner!’ has grown in popularity, now drawing on average of 250-300 racers and several thousand spectators annually!  At the finish racers are greeted by a River Festival with live music, food, and entertainment.  Race organizers include the Connecticut Outdoors, the Beacon Falls Merchants Association, Naugatuck River Watershed Association, and numerous volunteers from the Naugatuck Valley Outdoors Club, the Lions Club, Boy Scouts of America, and the Appalachian Mountain Club.  All proceeds above and beyond the events operating costs are donated to local organizations that are contributing to the Naugatuck River and Valley charities. 

Derby Day & Derby Dash 5K (Derby)
Since 1997 Derby Day has been a major event in the Naugatuck Valley. Although the event also features a Duck Race like several other town festivals in the River Corridor, the Derby Day Duck Race occurs on the east side of the City along the Housatonic River. Attendees can still find enjoyment along the Naugatuck River during the day, however, as the Derby Dash 5K and Fun Run routes include the Derby Greenway, which wraps around O’Sullivan’s Island, following the Naugatuck River for much of its length. Derby Day is sponsored by the City of Derby and the Derby Cultural Commission. The festival is held at the Historic Derby Green on Elizabeth Street and includes plenty of great food, live music and entertainment, and many talented artists and crafters from across the region.

River Cleanups: A Labor of Love

Heavy equipment is used to remove large trash items from the River in downtown Torrington.  Photo Courtesy City of Torrington.
Torrington River Cleanup
In 2006 the newly formed Torrington Conservation Commission joined forces with the local chapter of Trout Unlimited to continue and intensify annual river cleanup efforts in Torrington. The first year the partnership filled a 30 yard dumpster - plus recycled tires with the help of Toce Tire – all in one morning! Each year the cleanup has been held rain or shine. Trout Unlimited provides a cookout for volunteers after the cleanup and CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection staff are usually on hand to sample fish from the river to help monitor its health.  For more information contact Kim Barbieri at (860) 489-2221 or by e-mail.

NVRR Pre-Race River Cleanup
(Waterbury to Beacon Falls)

Since the inception of the Naugatuck Valley River Race (NVRR), Naugatuck River Watershed Association organizes a pre-race cleanup along the race course in the River. Volunteers cleanup not only the banks of the river but also any debris in the river itself that could pose a hazard to paddlers during the upcoming race.  Interested volunteers should contact Bob Gregorski for more information.

NRWA Linden Park Cleanup (Naugatuck)
Each spring and fall since 2010, the Naugatuck River Watershed Association (NRWA) works with the Naugatuck High School Air Force ROTC Cadets and leaders to organize a cleanup of Linden Park in Naugatuck.  In addition to cleaning the park, which is located along the banks of the Naugatuck River, cadets help beautify and restore the riverbanks by planting flowering bulbs, grass seeds and evergreen plants.  The plantings help stabilize the river banks, preventing erosion into the river.  Cadets also inspect established bird nesting houses and erect new houses as needed to help support the river's bird population.  For more information contact Bob Gregorski.

Sondra Harman and Kevin Zak of the Naugatuck River Revival Group work to remove a tire from the Naugatuck River below the Tingue Dam in Seymour. Photo Courtesy Thule Corporation.
Annual Seymour River Cleanup
Since 2004, the employees of Thule Corporation, the Town of Seymour, the Housatonic Valley Association, the Seymour Land Trust, and community members including the Nesteriak Family, have dedicated a day to cleaning the waterways of the Naugatuck Valley. Each year, volunteers remove an astounding amount of trash from the river and from the Peat Swamp Reservoir. In 2008, volunteers hauled a record five dump truck loads of trash and debris, including numerous shopping carts and bicycles, out of the river in downtown Seymour!  For more information about the cleanup, contact Ron Skurat (Seymour/HVA) or TJ Hanson (Thule).

Members of Boy Scout Troop 140 celebrate another successful cleanup!  Photo Courtesy NRWA.

Annual River Projects
In 1993, Boy Scout Troop 140 started cleaning the riverbanks along the Naugatuck River in Waterbury from Chase River Road down to Colonial Plaza (east bank), then added the west bank of the river south of the Huntingdon Avenue Bridge. Since the beginning, its annual projects have included: cleaning the banks, removing large debris from the river, refurbishing/replacing bluebird and tree swallow houses, wrapping trees with wire fencing (prevent beaver destruction) and planting trees, bushes and flowers. In recent years Troop 140 has continued the projects as a Troop-Self-Stewardship. For information contact William Fitzpatrick william.fitzpatric@sbcglobal.net.

Special thanks to our sponsors:
Naugatuck Savings Bank, Connecticut Community Foundation
Union Savings Bank, Wesson Energy, Inc., The United Illumination Company, Friends of Naugatuck River
The Platt Brothers & Company, Thomaston Savings Bank, Valley Community Foundation