For the past half century, Gasquet American Legion Post 548 has hosted the wonderfully wacky Gasquet Raft Races on the Smith River. Always held on the 2nd Saturday of July, the 2019 races will mark the 50th anniversary of this venerable tradition.
Although it isn’t required, participants are encouraged to dress in costume and decorate their rafts. As you can imagine, this being Northern California, the results are invariably highly creative and imaginative. Recent races have featured an inflatable dressed up like a giant shark and another like a tie-dye patterned Volkswagen van full of hippies, a floating pink flamingo followed by little baby floating pink flamingos, and participants that have included Vikings, pirates, dairy cows, bathing beauties (of course), medieval jesters, and an eye-popping blue creature with dorsal fins — and that’s just for starters.
Rafters put in at the confluence of the North and Middle Forks of the Smith River by the Horace Gasquet Bridge. The finish line is 2.5 mi. downriver at the Mary Adams Peacock Bridge. Plaques are awarded to the winners of 10 different categories determined by type of craft and age of participants, and the Best Costume and Most Decorated/Unusual Raft categories are awarded an additional cash prize. After the races the festivities continue with a deep pit barbecue at the American Legion Hall. Proceeds raised by the event are used to help local veterans.
WHERE: Go the American Legion Hall first, on Gasquet Flat Road in Gasquet, CA, and follow the signs from there.
Next Up: #21 – The Wild & Scenic Smith River