Grants Pass Boatnik Festival Raises Money for Community Programs
The festival, named years ago at the time of Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit Earth, is held at Riverside, Park in Grants Pass, with fireworks displays, parades, carnival rides, and other activities filling the weekend. Hydroplane racing draws the most visitors to the festival, roaring down the river at 120 to 130 miles an hour, and finishing the quarter-mile course in as little as 6 ½ seconds. Sprint boats race at 80 miles an hour through tight turns as onlookers cheer for favorites. The biggest competition, the Tom Rice Memorial White Water Hydroplane Race, is held on Memorial Day, with boats dodging rocks, logs and whitewater obstacles during two laps between Riverside Park and Robertson Bridge, 13 miles away. The festival has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years that are donated by the Grants Pass Active Club to community youth programs.