An annual fundraising event in Lumsden, Sask., is feeling the impact of the pandemic.
The Lumsden Duck Derby sees thousands of rubber ducks dumped into the Qu'Appelle River on Labour Day weekend. Each ticket sold is represented by a duck. if your duck crosses the finish line first, you win.
Organizers say this year's event hasn't broken even yet.
"It's crunch time right now, so it's all hands on deck," said Jamie Lees, chair of the derby.
The derby is a visual splendour, but also keeps the local rink alive. First prize is $20,000 — with a chance at $1 million — and there are other prizes for the next 19 ducks to cross the line.
The derby was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic, the first time it didn't run since it started 33 years ago.
It's back for 2021, but there have not been as many opportunities to sell tickets. Normally volunteers sell tickets at the Craven Country Jamboree, but the event was postponed this past July.
Typically at this point in August, there would be about 10,000 tickets sold. Lees said they're sitting around 3,000 right now. The fundraiser needs to sell 4,000 just to break even. People can learn more and buy tickets at www.duckderby.ca.
"Things have started to pick up a little bit more now," Lees told The Afternoon Edition. "But we still have a long ways to go."
Lumsden was a finalist for Kraft Hockeyville in 2020, which means it got $25,000 for the rink, but there are still plenty of costs. For example, Lees said the overhead door that let the Zamboni in broke and it was a $12,000 fix.
He said people don't realize how much maintenance goes into keeping the rink functioning and maintained.
LISTEN | Jamie Lees spoke with host Garth Materie on The Afternoon Edition
The expenses continue to add up with the ice plant, a leaky roof and more. The ice pond is also aging and in "desperate need" of replacement, Lees said. The duck derby funds would typically help with those big capital projects, Lees said.
"It's just one of those things that's a huge part of our community," Lees said. "It's a hub of our community and our youth really need that space. And so we need to do everything we can to keep it alive."