SKOWHEGAN — The Skowhegan boys soccer team was named the 2021 bed-racing champion after slipping and sliding through a rain-soaked downtown Thursday evening during Moonlight Madness.

“Boys Soccer” was led by Sean Bellner, a rising senior at Skowhegan Area High School, who said he and his teammates had a “wee bit of a warm-up” before their races.

Their key to success?

“A whole lot of fun, laughing and a lot of mac ‘n’ cheese beforehand,” Bellner said. “We did stretch a little, too.”

Bed racing serves each year as the highlight of Moonlight Madness, a town tradition spanning more than 20 years. For the event, Water and Commercial streets were closed to automobile traffic Thursday evening.

Moonlight Madness is part of the weeklong River Fest celebration. Hosted annually by Main Street Skowhegan, River Fest is a celebration of recreation and “life on the Kennebec.” Events throughout the week are designed to satisfy a variety of interests, including outdoor recreation, arts and theater, food and outdoor games.

At Thursday night’s bed races, each team was composed of five players. Four to push the bed and one on the bed, wearing a helmet.

The key to succeeding in the bed races: Coordinating the switch-off transition halfway through the race, when members must rotate positions before finishing the race.

The final face-off was between Bellner’s team and team “Moxie Falls,” whose members opted to race barefoot, round after round, sliding across the wet pavement.

For 30 minutes, the teams raced back and forth through downtown, fighting for the trophy and bragging rights as this year’s champion.

Team “Moxie Falls” takes a break Thursday evening between bed races on Water Street in downtown Skowhegan. The races are part of the annual River Fest celebration. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Prior to the first flip of a coin, food vendors were set up throughout the rotary, along with a bounce house, rock wall and performances by Skowhegan’s rec cheerleading teams. Thursday’s crowd was smaller this year both in the number of attendees and vendors.

Some of those in attendance stopped at the newly opened Unwined, which celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting prior to the 7 p.m. races. The local wine bar is operated by Billie Clark and her daughter, Samantha Hilton.

River Fest also serves to focus attention and showcase local outdoor recreation opportunities, including the Run of River Whitewater Recreation Area proposed for the Kennebec gorge.

When complete, the multiphases Run of River project is expected to offer features for boaters, kayakers, surfers and tubers.

Events continue through the weekend, with fireworks scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday over the Great Eddy. The rain date is scheduled for the following evening.

Team “Boys Soccer” from Skowhegan Area High School claims victory Thursday evening in the annual bed races on Water Street in downtown Skowhegan. The event is an annual highlight of the community River Fest celebration. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

River Fest winds down Sunday with live music at Coburn Park by “Set in Stone,” as part of the Concerts in the Park series put on by the Wesserunsett Arts Council, the Coburn Park Commission and Skowhegan Savings Bank.

Sponsored by Skowhegan Savings Bank, River Fest is organized by Main Street Skowhegan, the Skowhegan Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Skowhegan Parks & and Recreation Department and the Run of River Committee.

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