SKOWHEGAN — It just didn’t seem fair during bed races at last year’s Moonlight Madness in downtown Skowhegan.

The boys of the Skowhegan Area High School football team had bed-race teams, as did the girls from the high school field hockey team.

The boys prevailed, but this year the girls thought they might be quicker, faster and just might win.

And in the first heat of several races Thursday night, it wasn’t even close. The field hockey girls smoked a team of football players.

But in the end, neither of the teams was the winner. By press time Thursday, with several more races left to run, the Skowhegan Recreation Department appeared in the lead, with both the field hockey and football teams eliminated.

Haley Carter, 16, Lizzie York, 15 and Rylie Mullin, 17, said they did the bed-race event last year as part of the annual Skowhegan River Fest.

“It’s intense,” Carter said of the competition going up against the football players. “It’s really competitive. They’re really fast. We almost beat them last year because we got our helmet on faster but they outran us.”

Football players, including Kobe Bailey, Russell Bradley and Dan Lawyerson, were convinced they were bigger, faster and stronger and would win again.

“We beat ’em last year,” Lawyerson said. “I don’t know if they can keep up to their trash talk. They trashed-talked us last year, too.”

Bed races have been a part of Moonlight Madness, a highlight of the town’s River Fest, for at least 20 years, said Denise LeBlanc, of the Parks and Recreation Department. In fact, she said, the original old steel beds — one painted black, one painted orange for the school colors — are still in use. The wheels of the two beds have to be replaced every few years, but the beds are the same.

A bed race team competes in the annual bed races Thursday at Moonlight Madness in downtown Skowhegan.

A bed race team competes in the annual bed races Thursday at Moonlight Madness in downtown Skowhegan. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Each team had five players — four pushing the bed and one on the bed where a gymnasium mat had been placed. The rider had to wear a helmet. Teams raced down Water Street, then switched riders and changed helmets and raced back to the starting line. The loser is eliminated. The winner moves on.

River Fest also is about focusing attention on the $4.3 million Run of River white-water park proposed for the Kennebec Gorge.

Organizers hope the park, now 12 years in the making, will bring visitors to Skowhegan as a destination point. The objective of Run of River is to create white-water waves at 10 man-made structures in three locations to attract boaters, kayakers, paddlers, tubers and rafters for a park-and-play destination, waves for surfers and body boarders and an 1,800-foot run for rafting and kayaking.

Water Street and Commercial Street in Skowhegan were closed to traffic at 5 p.m. to make way for music booths, food tables, a dunk tank and the bed races.

Kristina Cannon, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan, said her group is the fiscal sponsor and handles most of the marketing for River Fest. Cannon said Moonlight Madness events, including a beer tent, live music and food trucks, are produced by the Skowhegan Area Chamber of Commerce.

Main Street also hosts a craft fair on Saturday and the dunk tank for Moonlight Madness. This year’s events are the first for Cannon as Main Street director.

“I attended it several years, and I know that it brings out tons of people and it’s a great community event,” she said. “People get excited about the live music, and I think in general it being a street festival is exciting.

River Fest continues Friday with a Chamber-sponsored gold tournament at Lakewood Golf Course and a lunch and dinner lobster feed sponsored by the Skowhegan Rotary Club. The glow stick river run is scheduled for 8:30 p.m., but pre-registration takes place at the Skowhegan Recreation Department.

Saturday promises free raft rides down the Kennebec Gorge by Moxie Outdoor Centers. Fireworks are scheduled for the Great Eddy of the Kennebec River, east of downtown, at 9 p.m.

For further details, go to mainstreetskowhegan.org.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter:@Doug_Harlow