Berlin Bathtub Races Scheduled For Friday

Berlin Bathtub Races Scheduled For Friday
Teams are pictured competing in last year’s Berlin Bathtub Races. File photo

BERLIN– Straw bales will line the sidewalks and bathtubs will careen down the street as local businesses show off their speed and ingenuity in what has become the town’s most popular summer sporting event.

On Friday, June 9, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce will host the 33rd annual Berlin Bathtub Races. The event, which starts at 6 p.m., will feature more than a dozen competitors.

“The Bathtub Races are Berlin’s signature event,” said Ryan Nellans, executive director of the chamber. “We have all of these fun events like Jazz and Blues and the Fiddlers Convention, but as fun as they are you can find something similar in Ocean City, Baltimore, Philadelphia. You’re not going to find the Bathtub Races anywhere else.”

The races, which will be held at 6 p.m. on June 9, draw hundreds of onlookers to Main Street each year as fans line up to watch local organizations race their modified bathtubs. Nellans said he’d had plenty of interest in the races and expected at least a dozen teams to take part.

While some competitors will be racing first-time tubs, others are returning tried and true bathtubs. Not just any tub will do, as the bathtubs being raced have to be authentic and capable of holding at least two gallons of water. Wheels have to be less than 26 inches and the bathtub is required to have brakes and steering. For those seeking inspiration for building a racing tub, the champion tub used for years by Jesse Turner of the Berlin Shoe Box is on display in the town’s welcome center. Retired from its racing days, it is now used to collect donations of shoes for Diakonia, a local shelter.

The overall winner of the Berlin Bathtub Races will be determined through a series of heats, with the final two teams left competing for the trophy.

“There’s a lot of people that are out for the trophy this year,” Nellans said.

While winners have shared a rubber duck trophy for years, Nellans said Jeffrey Auxer designs had created a new prize for winners going forward. The new award features a glass rubber duck atop a golden pedestal.

“I wanted something along the lines of a Stanley Cup, something we could put multiple winners on,” Nellans said. “I also wanted to recognize Jesse Turner.”

And so going forward, the winning team each year will have their name added to the Turner Cup, christened to pay homage to Turner, a longtime Berlin business owner who helped start the races and went on to win them several times. His racer is still on display in the welcome center.

For the second year in a row, WBOC’s Delmarva Sports Network will be broadcasting live from the event for those who can’t attend in person.

Nellans said he is still looking for volunteers to help with the event. Those interested in helping out can sign up online by visiting

Nellans said businesses and organizations entering teams were prepping eagerly for the event, which is a local favorite.

“This is a ‘you have to see it to believe it’ event,” he said. “The crowd is as intense as the race. It’s riot. It’s so much fun.”

The June 9 event will also feature a hula hoop contest for children, a rubber duck raffle and shopping opportunities downtown. Main Street will be closed at 2 p.m. so crews can set up for the races.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.