Saturday, we gathered at Diamond Lake Campground and Resort for the finale of our first-ever Rubber Duck Regatta.  When we first arrived, we didn't know that our Regatta would ultimately mark the end of an era. But then, shortly before we launched 92 rubber ducks into the lake for an absolutely hilarious race, Brian and Janice Smith, who have owned Diamond Lake since December of 2005, shared the bittersweet news with us.  They have sold the campground after a remarkable 15-year run, during which they restored the reputation of Diamond Lake and put it back on the map as a must-visit destination in Owensboro-Daviess County.

The Smiths are set to finalize the transfer of the property on (or near) April 12th and, certainly, the fact that Diamond Lake will have new owners is a huge story for our community, particularly the legion of campers who have made the campground their second homes.  But, for those of us here at WBKR and for me personally, this news is more than that.  It marks the end of a professional partnership that quickly grew into a friendship that will long outlive the Smith's legacy at Diamond Lake.

Sure, we've shared some tremendous times at Diamond Lake.  Brian, Janice and their daughter Amy have been game partners in any wild and crazy idea I ever threw at them.  Hey, let's hide stuffed monkeys in your woods and give away Holiday World tickets.  Hey, Brian!  What are your thoughts about hoisting a 1200-lb pumpkin in the air then smashing it onto your parking lot?  Hey, Brian! Can you build a gigantic BINGO board so we can load farm animals onto it and see where they take a dump?  Hey Amy, let's hide camouflage koozies was back in the woods.  Hey Brian, we're thinking about hosting a full weekend of events at your campground and calling it "Camp Country!"  Hey Brian, we want to have a raucous talent contest and have the finale in the Good Time Theatre.  Hey Brian, speaking of the Good Time Theatre, we want to host a game show in it and maybe race pedal carts around the aisles.  Hey, Brian! So, we want to have a rubber duck race and need a body of water to do it in.  How about it?

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The Smiths were always game and were, without fail, reliable and amazing partners.  But, more than that, they are reliable and amazing friends- dedicated, loving, fun, wonderful.  As Brian and I chatted Saturday about the pending sale, he let me know that he had an emotional start to that morning.  As he was getting ready for the Regatta, he started to think back to 2016, when he and Janice again jumped at the chance to be involved in a wild and crazy idea.

It was early that year, at one of our St. Jude Denim and Diamonds events, that Jaclyn Graves and I shared a video showing what our next Sweatin' for St. Jude endeavor would be.  We had twice run 50 miles for the charity in a day.  The third year of event we were going bigger, bolder, more insane, more grueling.  We planned to ride bicycles from St. Jude hospital in Memphis all the way to Owensboro.  Immediately after Denim and Diamonds ended, Brian and Janice approached the stage at Theatre Workshop.  They said, "We're in.  We don't know how or what that would even look like, but we're in.  We want to be a part of this."

And a part of it they were.  They wrangled the usage of an RV and agreed to take us down to Memphis and follow us the entire way back, even it it meant creeping along the route at 10 miles per hour.  And they did it.  We left Owensboro on Memorial Day, got to Memphis in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, managed to park the RV in the parking lot of Bass Pro Shops, snag maybe four hours of sleep and then head over to St. Jude to embark on a journey that would be life-changing for all of us in endless ways.

During that trip, Brian and Janice witnessed Jaclyn and I at our best and our worst.  It was way more taxing than we anticipated and Jaclyn and I suffered in physical and emotional ways we didn't anticipate.  But Brian and Janice were there, right along side us, protecting us from the traffic, the elements (we rode through a brutal thunderstorm near Paris, TN), from dogs, and those nagging feelings that, at some point, we weren't going to be able to continue.  They were the consummate cheerleaders and motivators.  Looking back on that trip, we couldn't have done it without them.  And, in retrospect, we wouldn't have wanted to.  We were already friends long before that 300-mile journey.  But it's that trip that sealed that friendship forever.

See, it was on that trip, with far too many stories to share, that we all discovered that extra something we have in common. Heart. That's what I appreciate and love about Brian and Janice the most.  Sure they have a sense of adventure and sure they're wonderfully open and accepting and smart and hard-working.  But they are full of heart.  These folks are the real deal. It's hard to find people in this world who will literally stop in their tracks and do something, selflessly, for someone else.  That's Brian and Janice.  And you can toss their daughter Amy into that mix as well.

On Saturday, as I got ready to leave Diamond Lake after the Regatta, we all stood in the Diamond Lake Grill, talked, hugged and shed a few tears.  Then Janice said, "If you need us, call us.  We're here.  Use us.  We want to help."  That's the Smiths.  Whether its Christmas Wish or St. Jude or some nutty promotion or contest, they're always here and ready to help.

I am going to miss our partnership and the hilariously fun events we have hosted over the years at Diamond Lake.  There's no doubt I am going to miss all that.  But you know what, like Janice said, the Smiths aren't going anywhere.  And I guarantee you, no matter where their next chapter takes them, they always be right here . . . right smack dab in the middle of our memories and, most importantly, our hearts.

WBKR's Rubber Duck Regatta 2021

On Saturday, at Diamond Lake Campground and Resort, WBKR officially "Released the Quacken." Here are the highlights and winners from our very first Rubber Duck Regatta.