For 13 consecutive years St. Cloud Main Street has organized The Smokin Blues, Boats, Bikes & BBQ event that was held at the St. Cloud Lakefront. It’s a fun family event featuring a Cardboard Boat Race, a BBQ cooking competition, amazing Live music, a Law Enforcement Motorcycle demonstration/competition and much more.

So how did this year’s cardboard boat race turn out? Well, it was hilarious, but how could it not be? You take respectable business leaders and community leaders and ask them to construct a small boat made of cardboard and duct tape and then place it in the water… oh yea, and get it in it with a few other people and paddle a few hundred feet into East Lake Toho, while other people are trying to beat you.  The race started at 12 noon over on the beach side of the lakefront area, but half the fun was watching the participants get ready to get in their boats. The crowd was filled with all kinds of folks who came out to support the participants… well, and to see if the boats were sea-worthy – or not! Yes, all the boats stayed afloat by the way.

It was a great time for all, despite the obvious low water level in the lake. The race took place in three separate heats. Heat one saw a single boat – with a young man at the helm. He fought the wind throughout the race and completed the task while the crowd cheered him on…  his dad, who was part of the Home Depot team, proudly met him at the beach as he returned.
The second heat featured a Neo-Pirate ship with a 4 “person” crew. They battle against a two “person” crew on a vessel named Purple rain! The pirate ship, much larger than the purple rain craft, proved to be too much for its competition and won by about 2 minutes, but all were smiles to have made it back safely and semi-dry.

The final heat of the event featured Home Depot vs. City of St. Cloud. Just as in St. Cloud’s everyday business, the St. Cloud vessel was led by City Manager Joe Helfenberger. The City Manager brought along some youth and strength to the race with the addition of his son David. The powered through water well together, but were no match for the “rowing crew’ style of the “depot’s” boat, which cut through the water like a hot knife through butter!

Home Depot took advantage of St. Cloud Police’s not participating and took home this year’s 1st place trophy in the third heat! If you missed the excitement, well then keep an eye out for next year’s cardboard race… it was well worth being out in the dry heat we’re having so far this year! Congrats to Paula Stark, President of St. Cloud Main Street and her team… it was a job well done once again on the entire Smokin’ Blues, Boats, Bikes and BBQ!