Mama Duck arrives at the 4-H Duck Race in style, Tompkins County NY
Image by Sandy Repp

Mascot "Mama Duck" will select this year's winning ducks from a swimming pool!

2008 4-H Rubber Duck Race, Ithaca NY
Image by Sandy Repp

Spectators on Cascadilla Creek move the ducks along during 4-H Rubber Duck Race

20th Anniversary 4-H Duck Race Goes Virtual

(9/4/20) ITHACA, NY–As organizers were planning ways to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 4-H Rubber Duck Race—Tompkins County 4-H’s most important annual fundraiser--the Covid 19 outbreak put all plans for public events on hold.As autumn approaches, a new “virtual” duck race has been scheduled for Sunday, September 13th, with prize chances now on sale online at

“The 4-H Duck Race has become one of the signs that spring has finally arrived in Tompkins County,” says Megan Tifft, 4-H Team Leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCE-Tompkins).“Although we can’t offer this family-friendly event in its usual time or format due to safety concerns, we’ve planned some fun ways for people to participate virtually and still support our 4-H Youth Programs,” she added.

Traditionally held on a Sunday afternoon in late April, the 4-H Rubber Duck Race attracts thousands of people who gather to watch 3,000 rubber ducks drop into Cascadilla Falls and race down the creek to the finish line at CCE-Tompkins Education Center where music, games, food and a huge annual Compost Fair await them.All ducks are collected as they finish the race, the winning duck numbers are announced, and prizes are awarded to individuals who purchased those duck chances.

This year’s 4-H Duck Race and Compost Fair will be livestreamed on Sunday, September 13 from 12:00-1:30pm on CCE-Tompkins’ YouTube Channel at giving participants an opportunity to join the fun from the safety of their homes.Various 4-H programs will participate, and there will be music, educational segments and giveaways from the Compost Program, and of course the announcement of this year’s winning ducks and prizes.

Since no ducks will race the creek this year, a livestream will show the rubber ducks drop into a swimming pool at an undisclosed location where winners will be chosen randomly by longtime costumed mascot “Mama Duck”.Grand Prize for the first duck she picks is a cash “Nest Egg” of $750; other great donated prizes that will go to the next 30 or more ducks chosen include a GoPro Hero Action Camera, Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones, KitchenAid Mixer, Gas Grill, gift certificates to local businesses, restaurants and more. Chances now are on sale online for $5/each or a “flock” of 5/$20 at Purchasers can find their numbers on the website by 10:00am on September 13 and follow along with the livestream as winners are announced.

The 4-H Rubber Duck Race typically raises $12,000 each year to support programs for youth across Tompkins County, with individual 4-H Clubs responsible for most of the chances sold.Due to Covid 19, however, sales are online only and are much lower now than at this point in prior years. “While this may increase an individual’s chances of winning a prize,” says Tifft, “Our 4-H Program very much depends upon these funds to provide the same quality programs to youth across Tompkins County. We invite the public to take part in this fun event and buy chances at to help make this year’s event equally successful.”

For more details on the 2020 4-H Rubber Duck Race & Compost Fair, visit and .Contact Megan Tifft, 4-H Team Leader, at with questions.

Last updated December 1, 2022