Party With the Ducks: Noblesville’s White River Celebration

Writer  /  Tracy Line
Photographer  /  Cindy Goyer

More heads are better than one. This was the idea when key leaders within the city came together to organize Noblesville’s White River Celebration. The event, to be held Saturday, September 13, is a daylong festival dedicated to celebrating the White River.

While Noblesville has long offered events on the river, they’ve previously been organized independently. “We had all these activities,” says Darren Peterson, “but they were severely disjointed.” Peterson, a board member for Main Street and a Development Committee member for Nickel Plate Arts, began brainstorming with Tim Stottlemyer, MS4 Program Manager for the city, on how to bring structure to the events. The two collaborated with the city, Main Street and Nickel Plate Arts to create this unique one-day celebration.

“It’s a bit of a social experiment,” says Peterson. “There is no one chairman; it’s a grassroots effort.” The experiment appears to have worked: the event offers a full lineup of activities sure to please everyone.

20th Annual White River Clean Up, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Moose Lodge, Noblesville: Volunteers receive free T-shirt and lunch.

Fun on the River, 12-4 p.m., 17180 River Ave. (White River Canoe Company): Fishing, canoeing, kayaking and more! Nominal charge for some activities.

Bridge Fair, 4-9 p.m., Logan Street Bridge: Visual and performing artists, family activities, vendor booths and live music.

$1 Million Duck Race, 5 p.m., Logan Street Bridge: Watch a multitude of ducks swim to the finish at this family-fun event.

White River Clean-Up
If this year is anything like last, volunteers can expect to work with around 500 others hauling in 8,000 pounds of trash, 3,000 pounds of metal and 130+ rubber tires. Sign up the morning of the event at the Moose Lodge in Noblesville.

New this year
Education stations along the trail. Take a break and learn the history and science of Noblesville’s premier water source. All volunteers receive a free t-shirt and lunch
for their service.

Relaxing Riverside
Spend your afternoon playing at the White River Canoe Company. Kids and their families can try fishing, riding in a canoe or attempting a kayak obstacle course. Most activities are free or available for a minimal fee.

Bridge Fair & $1 Million Duck Race
Enjoy live music (TBA) and performances by members of the Belfry Theatre. Observe local artists, or try your own hand in an artistic pursuit at the Artists Colony Corner. Watch commissioned artists choose items from the clean-up to transform into a sculpture (to be unveiled at the next First Friday).

Next, meander through the many vendor booths or grab a bite to eat. There will also be games for kids, a beer garden for adults, and best of all, “there will be cake!” says Cindy Benedict of Vision Noblesville. With Main Street and The Belfry turning 50 and the White River Clean Up celebrating 20 years, cake seems appropriate.

The start of the infamous Duck Race is 5 p.m. This family favorite is not to be missed: purchase ducks in advance (visit for details). The prize list is long, so be sure to hang out long enough to see what you’ve won.

Ongoing Fun
During September, the public is invited to enter an Instagram Challenge. Take a selfie in or around the river and post with #whiteriverselfie for a chance to win a great prize. You can also visit City Hall to see the Hamilton County Photographers exhibit of river photos.

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