Minimal regatta is this weekend; fireworks show tonight at Agri-Civic Center

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee’s own homemade boat race is set for this weekend.

The Adam Bryant Memorial Minimal Regatta sign-in is tonight (Friday, April 6) at the Agri-Civic Center. The regatta races will be Saturday, April 7, in the Agri-Civic Center pond.

For the minimal regatta, contestants must build their own boats from the materials provided: one 4’x8’ sheet of 1/4” luan plywood, 24’ of 2”x4”s, one 50 yard roll of duct tape, one pound of screws, and paint. No caulking, urethane, or adhesives of any kind may be used. Paint is allowed for decoration only.

The regatta theme in 2014 was “things that begin with A,” thus, Aircraft Carrier. The 2018 regatta will take place at Okeechobee’s Agri-Civic Center.

The regatta honors the memory of Adam Bryant, who was paralyzed in an accident while on a camping trip and died a few years later. The regatta started in 2011 to remember Adam Bryant and give families and friends an opportunity to come together and build their own memories.

It was Adam’s dream to be a firefighter/EMT. In the past, money raised from the boat sponsorships was used to send Okeechobee High School graduates to firefighter/EMT school, provide college scholarships, and other charitable activities of For Okeechobee, Inc., including construction of a special needs playground.

The inaugural Adam Bryant Memorial Mini-Regatta was held on Taylor Creek. That first year, more boats sank than made it to the finish line, to the delight of those watching from the shore.

The next year, the regatta moved to the C. Scott Driver Boat Ramps on the Kissimmee River.

The regatta grew in size and many heats were required to accommodate all of the racers.

Age categories were added ranging from youngsters to “old salts.”

As the boat builders became more experienced in maximizing the potential of the minimal materials, most boats actually made it to the finish line — but the fans continued to cheer the loudest for the boats that sank, especially when the boat captains went down with the ship with style.

By the third year, the race had added theme and boat decorating contests, challenging the creative boat builders to come up with new and crazier ideas.

This weekend, the regatta will be dropping anchor at its new location, the Agri-Civic Center.

On Friday, April 6, the boats will be checked in at the Agri-Civic Center. Everyone is invited to bring food for a tailgate party with a firework show at dark.

The regatta will take place on Saturday, April 7. Participants should be there by 8 a.m. Races start at 9 a.m.

This year’s theme is: “Regatta Racers … Mount Up!”

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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