Sandpoint’s funky float

Chamber revises an old-school Sandpoint tradition with the Sand Creek Regatta

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

It’s time to strap together a makeshift watercraft and think buoyant thoughts, as the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce hosts the Sand Creek Regatta: a race “put together by locals, for locals, to celebrate being together again.” 

Chamber Member Specialist Ricci Witte hopes the regatta will serve as an opportunity for business owners and locals to reconnect as the tourist season comes to an end in Sandpoint.

“I’m excited to see our town’s people,” she said. “I want to capture that comfortable feeling of seeing friends and acquaintances at our major summer events and sharing a uniquely Sandpoint experience together.”

Lifetime Sandpointian Jon Knepper came to Witte with the idea last year, inspired to bring back a tradition from the 1970s and ’80s: the Chamber’s Business Raft Race.

“[My wife and I] did some research down at the Bonner County Museum and found some pretty fun pictures of businesses like Melody Muffler in their Viking ship, capsized,” Knepper said. “We wanted to bring back a community event where businesses can participate and enjoy some locals coming out to cheer them on.”

Registration for the Sand Creek Regatta is $25 per participant. All watercraft must be handmade and human-powered — no existing watercraft will be allowed except for floatation devices fewer than 12 inches in diameter. 

Vessels will launch under Bridge Street, turn around at the Cedar Street Bridge and finish at Bridge Street. Awards will be given to Most Recyclable Craft, Most Epic Fail, Race Winner and Most Creative. This year’s theme is “Whatever Floats Your Boat!”

Spectators are asked to practice physical distancing along the Sand Creek Trail, the public dock and the two bridges. Bob Witte, of KPND, will announce the race on Facebook Live for spectators both in person and at home.

Funds from the event will be used to purchase personal floatation devices for boat ramps and beach areas around Sandpoint. Knepper said there is a “clear need in the community” for free and easily accessible PFDs.

“We have seen a few accidents this past summer and it needs [to be] addressed,” he said. “We hope to provide additional life jackets to anyone who needs them with no expense to the borrower.”

The 219 Lounge is hosting the official party following the regatta, featuring live music on the patio and a special regatta-themed cocktail.

Witte and Knepper agreed that the Sand Creek Regatta is a tribute to Sandpoint’s past, while hoping to inject a little old-school fun into the present.

“This is what Sandpoint was like in our youth — weird, funky town events, and caring for your community,” Witte said.

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