After being delayed and then canceled in 2019 due to weather and the 2020 event being scrubbed due to the COVID-19, the Smithfield Yacht Club will open once again for the River Rat Regatta on the Neuse on Saturday, August 14 at 4:00 p.m. The event will feature a race between 2-person teams in cardboard boats from Smithfield’s Boat Ramp on N. Front Street to the Deputy C. Paul West, Sr. Bridge.

The boats must be constructed entirely from corrugated cardboard, glue, and duct tape.  Entries will compete in either the Youth (12 & under) or Adult Division, and prizes will be awarded for the fastest (1st, 2nd, and 3rd) in each.  There will also be an overall award given for Best Decorated and the Titanic Award for most memorable sinking.  The number of entries is limited, and participants should register as soon as possible to ensure they are able to compete.

Two Kids Paddle a Cardboard Boat Along The Neuse River

“We had a great turnout for the first River Rat Regatta in 2018, with thirty-three creative and mostly well-built boats, and an enthusiastic crowd cheering the teams on toward the finish line,” stated Gary Johnson, Smithfield Parks & Recreation Director.  “After not being able to have the regatta for two years, we can’t wait to see the entries that people have been working on.”

In the event of inclement weather or a delay caused by the water level in the river, the event will be rescheduled for Saturday, August 28.

Awards will be given at 7:00 p.m. and will be followed by live music from Blind Joy, a local classic rock band, until 9:00 p.m. 

The River Rat Regatta is hosted by Smithfield Parks & Recreation, the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation, Smithfield Police Department, and Smithfield Fire Department.  For more and emerging information stay tuned to the Facebook Event. To register, go to  

Two people paddling a handmade cardboard boat in the Neuse River for the Smithfield River Rat Regatta.