Uh oh...

It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!

Read More about this safari issue.
Travel 0

Heber Springs Cardboard Boat Races


What is unusual, however, is seeing cardboard boats in all shapes and sizes being carted around town. It’s been happening the last week of July for twenty-seven years. Yes, Heber Springs is home to the World Championship Cardboard Boat Races and every year people from all over the country converge on our small town to sail the high seas of Greers Ferry in their homemade cardboard vessels competing for the Captain’s Award and the most coveted title-The Pride of the Fleet. So unusual but also-so cool.

Greers Ferry Lake Cardboard Boat Race

The rules are simple: the boat must be made completely out of cardboard and fastened with duct tape (but not wrapped) or liquid nails. It may be water proofed with approved sealants and decorations are encouraged as long as they don’t add to the structural integrity of the vessel. Above all, life jackets must be worn by all members of the crew.

Cardboard Boat Race in Action

Competitors range in age from kids to adults and come from every level of experience; novice boat builders (who are given a cardboard boat building guide) to expert boat builders and racers.
Creativity and imagination are encouraged as are costumes and themed crews. Crowds gather along the shore to cheer on the fleets as they navigate a roped-off course. The excitement builds as the start gun fires and each crew pushes off and rows, paddles, or peddles their way to the finish line.

Battle on Greers Ferry Lake Cardboard Boat Race

Sometimes, hilarity ensues; boats toss around in the wake and flip over or start to sink. Sometimes the competitors maneuver their crafts too close to one another and tie each other up while the boat behind sails right on by to take the lead. Sometimes, Captain Cardboard gets caught up in the excitement and can be heard encouraging his scallywags a tad bit rambunctiously-all in good fun, of course.

Cardboard Boat Race Wipeout

The fun isn’t over after the winner has been declared, though. The Demolition Derby takes place at the end and crews intentionally ram each other and try to sink the opposing boats. The most dramatic sinking is awarded the Titanic Award. Most importantly, everyone walks away with a smile and probably sore arms, too.

This fun and entertaining event garners attention from newspapers, magazines and television shows nationwide. In fact, worldwide. I was contacted in 2011 by an Italian magazine wanting to publish one of my race snapshots. It appeared alongside a write up of the cardboard boat races.

Lake reading: SpeakUp

It may be too late to enter your cardboard marvel this year, but it’s never too late to start dreaming and scheming for next year’s event. If you’d like to experience the race for yourself, head to Heber Springs on July 26th. Races begin at 10 a.m. at Sandy Beach. Bring the family and enjoy a treasure dig, a watermelon eating contest, and volleyball tournament.  For more information, check out the Heber Springs Area Chamber for race details, pictures of past events, and fun race-related links.

See you on the lake, mateys!

Meet the

Learn more about .

A little about .

Arkansas Women Blogger member Gina Knuppenburg is still trying, desperately, to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. On the list of life goals achieved: freelance social media consultant, crafter extraordinaire, writer, and cupcake baker. She writes about the adventure at her blog Desperately Seeking {Gina}.

Read more stories by Gina Knuppenburg


Visit Gina Knuppenburg’s Website

Sorry, there were no posts found.

Join the Conversation

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Submit a photo

We select one featured photo per week, but we show many more in our gallery. Be sure to fill out all the fields in order to have yours selected.
  • Accepted file types: jpg, png, Max. file size: 5 MB.

Regions Topics

What are you looking for?

Explore Arkansas

Central Arkansas

Little Rock, Conway, Searcy, Benton, Heber Springs

Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Fort Smith

South Arkansas

Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, Arkadelphia

Explore by Topic