Prairie Street Brewing Co. General Manager Mike Ryan, in teal, pedals his team’s boat on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023, during the Rock River Anything That Floats Raft Race in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
News release
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The Rock River Raft Race NFP Steering Committee proudly announces that the 2024 Rock River Anything That Floats Race will set sail from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug.  18.  

Since 1976, thousands of racers have floated their dreams downstream on our beautiful Rock River, and it is time once again to gather friends, family and coworkers to imagine and build your dream vessels for this year’s event.

Those who don’t float can cheer on the racers from an endless number of riverside perches between the Auburn Street bridge and the Finish Line at Prairie Street Brewing Co.

Event details can be found on the race website:  

Rain date in the event of bad weather is Sunday, Aug. 25.


The Rock River Anything That Floats Race all-volunteer steering committee is proud to plan and produce this incredibly fun annual event. We love seeing Rockford’s ingenuity and thirst for fun come shining through each August. When financial circumstances allow, we share proceeds with other local not-for-profits like the Fourth of July Celebration, Loves Park Ski Broncs, Rock River Trail, Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful and others. Since relaunching the race in 2017, we have shared approximately $20,000 in proceeds.  


Racers can choose from two Race Divisions: 

  • Do It Yourself (DIY): This is the division for the handy craftsmen and women among us who wish to design, build and test their customized rafts. Your imagination is your limit!   
  • Hulled Craft:  If you want to race but you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to build your raft from scratch, you can use a hulled craft as a base and decorate an existing floating vessel (with no motor). Jon boat? Yep! Rowboat? You bet. Canoe? Why not?
  • Details at  


Entrants in both divisions compete for First, Second, and Third place prizes for Fastest Raft as well the coveted People’s Choice and Frank Schier Design and Creativity Judges Choice awards to determine the most creative designs. 


Local area businesses, clubs, students and groups of individuals are encouraged to sign up and make this event a fun team-building experience. To register, visit

The registration deadline is August 12, 2024. The entry fee is $100 per team (up to 10 crew members) and $50 per team for Student Teams (must be currently enrolled in an educational institution)  and Not-for-Profit Organization teams. 


Returning to this year’s event will be the popular dockside Release The Quackin’ in which race attendees of all ages fire toy yellow ducks at a mid-river floating target with a giant dock-mounted slingshot at Prairie Street Brewing Co. Prizes are won and fun is had by participants and spectators at this one-of-a-kind event-within-an-event. 

Bring the kids and join the professional Staff of Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful and other local organizations to learn the ways of water and explore the habitat along the Rock River. Take a watery quiz, drip some drops, make something float and more! It’s a great way to boost children’s eco-knowledge and fun for kids of all ages! H2-Oh!  Will take place at the riverside YMCA Boathouse on the south end of the Rock River Recreation Path.


Race day schedule of events includes:

  • 10:00 a.m.: Sign-in starts (all categories)
  • 11:00-4:00  H2-Oh! Environmental Family Fun Fair at the YMCA boathouse
  • 12:00 p.m.: Race begins at the Auburn Street bridge
  • 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Release the Quackin’ on the dock at Prairie Street Brewing Company
  • 4:00 p.m.: Awards ceremony at Prairie Street Brewhouse

“On the Raft Race Steering Committee, we meet year ‘round,” said Jay Graham, Steering Committee Member. “But late winter is when our planning processes really pick up and we start to get excited to see what kind of creative surprises this year’s racers will produce. Rockford is such a creative city and we love watching people shine on race day, whether they’re floating on the river or cheering from shore. It makes all the hard work worthwhile.” 


The race course is 1.65 miles in length and ends in a grand finish at Prairie Street Brewhouse. The scenic course offers a variety of viewing options for thousands of spectators who will attend: Auburn Street Bridge, the Whitman Street Bridge, all along the Rock River Recreation Path and at Prairie Street Brewing Co. Race Day is also a big day for local clubs like Lombardi and Verdi. Pick a spot along the route and watch the rafts float by in all their glory, one by one. The race is a time trial format in which we release the rafts one by one in parade form to give each their moments in sun as they cover the length of the course. 


It takes a Navy of volunteers to produce an event like the Rock River Anything That Floats Race. The board is looking for people interested in numerous roles to make this event a success, from planning in advance, to assisting with rafts entering the water to helping clean up the riverfront. You can be part of the crew! Visit the “VOLUNTEER” tab at to sign up and help.


The Rock River Anything That Floats Race is an entirely volunteer-driven community event. The Steering Committee welcomes additional sponsors to help support our efforts, which require cash and elbow grease. Please visit our website sponsorship page for more information and to help keep RRATFR afloat now and in the future:

About The Race

Initially launched in 1976 (the U.S. Bicentennial) as a US. vs. Brits special event for a local radio station, the first Raft Race featured just two teams. In 1978, the race was opened to the public to much fanfare. Decades of enthusiastic racing and spectating ensued. More than just an homage to the incredibly popular raft races of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s – the all-new Rock River Anything That Floats Race is a restored tradition for new generations of Rockfordians to love and experience. Additional event details can be found at

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