COLUMBIA — On the banks of a lake behind Bass Pro Shops, vessels made from cardboard and duct tape zig-zagged across the water in hopes of reaching the finish line without sinking.
More than 50 cardboard boats took to the water Saturday morning for "Float Your Boat," a fundraising event for the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri. Hosted by the Food Bank and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, the event raised more than $15,500 before factoring in concession stand profits.
The goal for most boat builders was to take ordinary cardboard and craft it into something seaworthy. Spectators saw boats shaped like a school bus, a hot air balloon and a crayfish.
Some boats capsized immediately, while others sank slowly while approaching the finish line. Audience and crew members laughed and cheered the soggy boats.
"The boats go from solid engineering to wild and crazy," said Randy Mertens, coordinator of media relations for the College of Agriculture.
Some builders weren't concerned with hiding the true materials of their boats: boxes and tape.
A team representing MU's Agricultural Education Society took a simple approach, captaining a plain rectangular boat striped with duct tape to cover the seams of the collapsed boxes.
"We didn’t want to get too caught up in the design," said Lane Howard, an MU sophomore and Agricultural Education Society member. "We focused on the structure."
Fellow crew member Billy Granneman admitted that the team started with no plan. "But eight rolls of duct tape later, here we are."
While boat teams competed for the fastest time, they also sought other awards, including most spectacular sinking, best use of theme and ugliest boat.
Spectators voted for their favorite designs by dropping donations for the Food Bank into cans in front of each boat. The winner would receive the "People's Choice Award."
The event began last year, when it raised about $2,460 for the Food Bank.
"Every dollar raised by the boat teams equals 11 meals or 15 pounds of food on tables in the 32 counties served by the Food Bank," said Chris Sisk, special events coordinator for the Food Bank, in a news release.
Supervising editor is Richard Webner.