“That was really cool, last year,” remembered Kieran Katz, 7, from Sun Prairie, about last year’s Rustic Raft Rally. “I like ships like the Titanic and rafts are a kind of ship.”

This year, Kieran and his brother, Hixson, 9, will be helping their dad, Sam, build a raft to paddle down the Kickapoo River on July 27 for this year’s event at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, “It’s going to be like ‘Naked and Afraid’ on T.V.,” exclaims Hixson. “They build a raft!” The Katz family will construct the raft from “wood from the forest,“ according to Hixson. His father hopes they can build it in one day. Hixson plans to name his raft “Ghost Ship” and fly a green flag. Watching last year’s rafts inspired the family to live the adventure themselves this year, or sink trying to!

The boys’ mother, Meghan, remembered that it was nice walking around the Kickapoo Valley Reserve last year at the Raft Rally on a nature treasure hunt. “Each time we found something there would be a clue for the next one,” she said.

There was also a popular scavenger hunt with a list of photos to collect via cellphone on the Reserve, such as a six-petaled flower, mushrooms on a tree, etc. These fun activities for children and adults, plus kids fish for free, wagon rides, and nature hikes, will all be happening. The event is free and open to the public. Food will be available for purchase from Blackhawk Grill and Sacred Heart School.

All ages — groups, businesses, families, scouts, 4-H clubs, students — are invited to build a raft from natural materials and float down the Kickapoo for 2.3 river miles — from Landing 12 at Rockton to Landing 14, the site of the main event.

Launching begins at 1 p.m. If you’re not ready to float a raft, come to the event on Saturday, July 27, beginning at noon. Sponsored by Friends of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.

To enter a raft, call 608-625-2960 or send an email to Jackie.yocum@wisconsin.gov

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