DEMING - Early Saturday morning hot air balloons filled the Deming sky to kick off the 37th annual Great American Duck Race weekend. The festival brings in people from all around the southwest to for the live duck races that are run on wet and dry tracks. Races which began in 1980 as a small, fun event for the community.
The GADR officially began Thursday with the crowning of Chanel Vasquez as Duck Queen. The official races began at noon on Saturday at noon at McKinley Duck Downs (Luna County Courthouse Park). Festivities at the event included legendary competitions such as the Great American Horseshoe Tournament, The Great American Tortilla Toss, Tournament of Ducks parade and many others. Entertainment was the order of business with various carnival rides, live music and many types of fan favorite carnival food.
Traditionally, ducks are raced in both wet and dry tracks and a cash prize is awarded to the fastest duck during Sunday's race final. The ducks reach that race by a process of elimination. Saturday served as preliminary heats.
Hot air balloons
“We live here in town, but we’re just starting the whole duck race festivities,” said Mike Bonenfant as the sun crept over the early morning hot air balloon ascension. “Its nice that we have something like this locally.”
Pilots from as far as Arizona joined in the Solitaire Homes Hot Air Balloon Mass Ascension – The first ascension in two years at the duck races. Poor weather conditions grounded the balloons.
Duck fans crowded the Downs after 10 a.m., many gathered in anticipation for the Great American Tortilla Toss sponsored by Deming MainStreet Program and Amigo’s Mexican Foods. Special tortillas were made for contestants of all ages to hurl for the farthest distance. Winners received cash prizes and bragging rights until next year’s toss.
“It sounded like something fun to do,” said John Lowther of Tuscon, AZ. “People have been great, food has been wonderful – the duck races were a blast and we enjoyed the toss. Why not throw a tortilla?”
Lowther is a first-time duck race visitor and said he plans to bring members of his family next year to have them share the duck experience.
Winners of the toss include Lloyd Valentine in six and under division, Sebastian Lescombs in the seven to 12 co-ed division, Freya Delgadillo in the 13-16 co-ed division, Yadira Macias and David Beasley won in the adult categories and Gilbert Estrada took first in the 55 plus division. Beasley was the returning champion of last year’s toss and remains to defend his title until next year.
The PNM Tournament of Ducks Parade presented by the Deming-Luna County Chamber of Commerce drew more than 100 entries and took the city by storm with an hour-long procession through the streets of downtown Deming.
Mimbres Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home stole the show with their first-place float.
Second place went to annual favorite Solitaire Homes.
Deming Orthodontics walked off with a bright smile in third place.
All three winners were local businesses.
Twenty-five teams jumped at the chance to pitch horseshoes Saturday at McKinley Duck Downs for a chance at prize money. Teams of doubles partners competed in a double-elimination bracket while ducks were racing on wet and dry tracks, vendors were vending, and entertainment acts were performing and tortilla were flying.
When the last shoe hit the stake, Bob Swain and Sam Hill collected $250 for first place. Abel Flores Sr. and Abel Flores Jr. pocketed the second-place share of $150. Third place of $100 went to Frankie Morales and Bubba De La Torres.
The Washers Tournament drew a dozen doubles teams on Sunday to close out the competitions at McKinley Duck Downs.
Sonny Jaurequi teamed with Rudy Chavez to split the first-place share of $120. Jose Maldonado and Manuel Ruiz split $70 for coming in second place and Martin Ruiz and Leo Gutierrez shared $50 as the third-place team.
DEMING - Planning for the Great American Duck Race is in full swing as committee members meet to line up sponsors and volunteers for the Aug. 25-28 event.
Tuesday’s board meeting solidified some of the sponsors as well as established new rules and regulations for some of the favored events of the races. The festival is one of the Deming's major events and draws as many as 10,000 visitors for a weekend of activities.
The races hold various levels of sponsorship that are filled by different companies and individuals to support the events. They are responsible for the needed costs of operations for the races and many companies have elected to sponsor chosen events such as the Tournament of Ducks Parade, which will be backed by PNM. Additional sponsors of the event include Mizkan America, Solitaire Homes, Amigo’s Mexican Food and many others.
“With the passing of Dave Johnson, we did not have a website, we did not have a telephone and there was no access to us,” said Duck Race Treasurer Marie Pinchuk. “Now that we’ve got that operating again, it’s helping a lot.”
One of the biggest sponsors so far is Luna Energy Facility who has donated the $5,000 corporate sponsor level for the event. Sponsorship levels are ranked for both companies and individuals and Luna Energy Facility has been a prevalent sponsor of the event for some time.
Changes will be made to the Great American Washer Tournament as well as the Great American Horseshoe Pitching Tournament. As per request of Tommy Esquivel, the event chairman for the tournaments, players are encouraged to bring their own horseshoes for the event. The amount of shoes able to be provided has dramatically decreased from last year, and players must try to bring their own for this year’s event.
The Great American Washer Tournament will also see changes, as the size of the washers has been changed from 3-inch washers to 2½-inch washers for this year.
For the past 36 years, the Great American Duck Races has brought thousands of people to Deming to celebrate a lasting tradition. Events at the festival include a live water and dry duck races, The Duck Royalty Pageant, the Great American Tortilla Toss as well as the Great American Outhouse Race. Vendors of all types will also be present during the festival selling various goods.
DEMING - What better way to cool off in the summer heat that a trip to the beach? Residents of Deming and tourists from all around will gather in the desert to celebrate the 37th annual Great American Deming Duck Race, Aug. 25-28.
Flowing out of the mind and creativity of Dave Johnson, the late Chief Publicity Quacker of the GADR, the beach party duck theme will be the main focus in the pageants, parades and other aspect of the race weekend.
The GADR Committee will honor Johnson's 30-plus years with the duck races as post-humous grand marshal of the Tournament of Ducks parade. The parade is slated for 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Designed by Daniel Gonzales, the logo features a duck racing to a day at the beach with an inflatable ring, umbrella and sand pail.
“Dave had a couple of ideas when we had a meeting, and we all kind of agreed on the beach party duck because he really liked that idea,” said Amanda Mauldin-Barnes, vice president of the GADR Committee. And so after he passed, it was just what he wanted, so for sure that’s what we’re going to do.”
Johnson fell ill in March and passed away at age 62.
This year will feature the same competitive events and will add some new attractions for those who plan to attend. A car show, featuring classic show cars in the area will be open for the public as well a beer and wine garden provided by St. Clair Winery. The garden will be a feature from the past that the duck races has worked to bring back for this year.
“Now that Dave’s not here, we’ve all had to step up and take roles of everything that Dave did,” said Mauldin-Barnes. “I just have bigger shoes to fill.”
The annual Great American Tortilla Toss, Great American Outhouse Races and other community favorites will also be held in the spirit and tradition of the duck races. Live duck racing is still the main attraction on wet and dry tracks. Cash prizes will he awarded to the top finishers on both tracks.
“It's something the whole community looks forwards to. It’s not just one person putting it on, it’s a community event and everybody supports it,” Mauldin-Barnes said.
For any questions on vendor or other applications, emails can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEMING - Visitors at this year’s 37th annual Great American Duck Race can expect the same wacky, family-friendly fun as usual, but organizers hope the addition of several new attractions will make the event more enjoyable.
The events will take place from Thursday, Aug. 25 to Sunday, Aug. 28 at locations around the community, with the main attractions centered around the Luna County Courthouse, 700 S. Silver Ave., and its McKinley Duck Downs.
A new attraction that organizers feel will be enjoyed by visitors of all ages is the Desert Classics Car Show, which will take place in the parking lot for the New Mexico Sixth Judicial District Courthouse off Poplar Street. The event is free and open to the public.
“Poplar Street has always been a hub for rides, games and food during the races, but we felt adding a car show would make the area even more entertaining for our guests,” said Marie Pinchuk, one of the event organizers. “We appreciate the Desert Classics Car Club for stepping up to participate.”
Also new around the courthouse will be the re-introduction of the wine and beer garden, which will be provided by St. Clair Winery. It will be located south of the pavilion in Courthouse Park. A portion of the proceeds from sales will go back to the Duck Race Committee to help organize future events.
“We are excited to partner with the committee and bring this feature back to the Duck Races,” said Larry Donigan, general manager of the Deming Winery and Tasting Room. “Our staff are trained in responsible serving, so we expect everyone to have a good time and stay safe.”
For questions about the wine and beer garden, contact him at 575-546-9324 (ext. 13).
On a more somber note, Duck Race organizers plan to honor the memory of longtime committee member and Duck Race icon Dave Johnson by posthumously making him the grand marshal of the Tournament of Ducks Parade. Johnson passed away from a brief illness on March, 26 of this year.
The parade will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 around downtown Deming. Organizers have also renamed the judging stand to the Dave Johnson Pavilion. Pinchuk said Johnson was involved in the annual event for nearly 30 years, mostly has Chief Publicity Quacker.
The last new announcement from the committee is that the sponsor party will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26 at the Deming Elk’s Lodge, located at 3401 Raymond Reed Blvd. in Deming Industrial Park.
The Duck Race weekend will still feature many of your favorite events, including the Duck Royalty Pageant, Great American Tortilla Toss, Great American Outhouse Race, the Duck Mart, carnival, live entertainment, hot air balloon mass ascension, slow pitch softball tournaments, Great American Horseshoe and Washers tournaments, First United Methodist Church Barbecue, and of course, live duck racing on wet and dry tracks.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help with the events should contact email@example.com.
DEMING — Its almost that time of year when thousands migrate and flock to Deming. The annual Deming Duck Races are just around the corner and preliminary preparations for the festivities have begun.
The theme of this year races, which marks 37 years of duck celebrations in Deming, will be "Beach Party Duck". The race event will take place on August 25 to Aug. 28 at Courthouse Park, 700 S Silver Ave.
This will be the first year in many years where the races will be conducted without Dave Johnson, the late Secretary and Treasurer who's presence was always an important part of the Duck Races. In his memory, the judges stand will be dedicated as the "Dave Johnson Stand".
"He spent so many years up there and we want to keep him up there," said current Duck Race Treasurer Marie Pinchuck . Pinchuck succeeds the position from Johnson for this year's event.
Johnson will be remembered this year as the Grand Marshal of the Duck Races.
Building the Duck Races has been slow so far due to a website crash that brought down the organization's site and halted online traffic. The new site is currently under construction by designer Daniel Gonzales who will also be designing the logo.
"We bought our ducks, they're being raised, they're ducklings and they're going to be ready to go. They'll be ducks by the time the races get here," laughs Secretary Joanna Costilla. Costilla succeeds Johnson's other position on the Duck Races board as the newly elected secretary.
Racing will begin at 12 p.m. on Saturday, August 27 with other events starting on Thursday, Aug. 25 and lasting until Sunday Aug. 28. Additional events included in this year's races are the annual pageant, carnival, tortilla toss and a car show sponsored by the Desert Classics Car Club.
"Its a huge community event and its been running so long its become a staple of what Deming is," said Costilla. "Its a trademark of Deming, the 'Deming Duck Races'."
Entry to the races is always free however it costs $5 to enter in the races. Races this year will include wet and dry races and separate prize for each category of race.
While the website may take several weeks to be completed, those interested in volunteering or sponsoring are encouraged to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.