A Wet Affair – The 20th Annual Chestertown Tea Party Raft Race
Chestertown, seat of Kent County, holds an annual Tea Party event on Memorial Day weekend. The weekend includes two days of fun, including a reenactment of the day that town citizens dumped the tea cargo from a ship on the Chester River following the Boston Tea Party in 1774. I didn’t attend that event, but saw photos in the local paper of costumed “Brits” being tossed into the Chester River. What good American doesn’t like that? It’s in our blood to cheer that on.
For 20 years, Chestertown has held a Tea Party River Raft Race, with entrants from all age groups and walks of life. This year’s event was sponsored by the Chester River Association, which protects and supports clean water efforts on the Chester River. It was a beautiful summer day, and the Chester River was packed with boats of all kinds.
This group brought a crab lunch to enjoy on their boat – great idea!
And as always, some people just can’t get enough screen time….
As usual, this year’s race included clever and imaginative homemade rafts, most of which were actually seaworthy for much of the event. With fourteen different entries and costumes galore, there was plenty for the large crowd to watch. Four kid’s entries started the race, and Team “Flyin’ Hawaiian” definitely looked practiced and steady as they took off and left all of the other boats in their wake. As is typical in these kind of events, the adult boats had a jangled mess at the start, with rafts colliding and heading in every possible direction.
Raft teams chose clever names such as “Sinko De Rafto”, the “Hungry Games”, and “Dead Men Floating” – a team of zombies. There was a replica Delorean with actual smoke coming from it’s exhaust. Two teams named “I’ll Have Another” tried to replicate the winning racer’s chase. One team’s raft was made entirely of plastic swim noodles. Another used paddles made from recycled water bottles, which, although clever, didn’t appear to be particularly effective in moving the boat.
There were a surprising number of people who chose to sit in the tall grass at the river’s edge. You can see some of them below, and my entire body starts to itch as I wonder just how many chigger bites those people woke up with this morning. Hel-lo! Unless you’ve spent your entire life in a city, or are from some distant land without chiggers, anyone sitting in tall grass is just asking for trouble.
The judges were given “excellent” bribes, such as chocolate brownies and champagne, which added to the points teams amassed for awards that included “most impressive failure”. With a dropping tide and strong winds, all boats eventually made it to the finish, and the crowd split, heading up to Wilmer Park to watch “cow plop bingo”, a game of chance in which a ticket can win $2000 if a large Guernsey cow “plopped” on that ticket’s 4 sq. ft. piece of park land. A fun day was had by all, and more assistance was offered to support the good work of the Chester River Association.