For the first time since the 1990s, the Three Rivers Festival will include a raft race this summer.
The raft race, scheduled for July 20, will include $14,000 in cash prizes available to the fastest and and most creative rafts, TRF Executive Director Jack Hammer said in a news conference Friday.
Hammer introduced two sponsors whose donation – the largest in the history of the festival, Hammer said – is bringing back the raft race and helping support other festival programs.
Bill Bean, of Hanning and Bean Enterprises Inc., and Bruce Dye, of Hotel Fitness, are fronting the prize money. Hammer declined to say how much money in all the men are contributing to the festival, saying the figures would be available in the festival's tax disclosures next year. Sources close to The News-Sentinel said that the total donation is $114,000. That makes the sponsorship worth $100,000, in addition to the previously mentioned $14,000 in cash prizes.
A long list of rules and conditions – which doesn't appear to be posted on the TRF website yet – will bind participants in the raft race. Most are geared toward making the event safe, but at least one provides an immediate return for a race sponsor: Each raft must have the “Hotel Fitness” name or logo displayed on the raft.
Prizes will be awarded for the first-, second- and third-place rafts in two categories – fastest and most creative – and two divisions – commercial and individual or non-commercial.
The News-Sentinel first reported March 29 on the likelihood of the raft race's return.