The World Championship Cardboard Boat Races have won 2016 Event of the Year at the Arkansas Love Festivals & Events (ALFiE) Awards, its second year to receive the prestigious award. The announcement was made at the 33rd Annual Conference held in Little Rock January 25-26. 

"It takes over 70 volunteers to pull that event off, as well as our sponsors," said Heber Springs Area Chamber of Commerce Director Julie Murray. "All of our volunteers that are so dedicated to that event. Some of them have been a part of it since the beginning. With them in place, it eases the burden of the Chamber exponentially so that it runs like a well oiled machine." 

Getting the award for the second year in a row cements the races as a solid event that gains even greater recognition and visibility for potential visitors to the area. 

"It proved that when we won in 2015 it wasn't just a fluke or wasn't just because it was the first time we entered," said Murray. "It wasn't just because they were trying to give attention. Toad Suck Daze, and rightfully so, gets a lot of attention. In fact they won Festival of the Year for 2016. All of these cities with much larger budgets than we have win best in a lot of categories. But for Event of the Year and Festival of the Year, they take budget into consideration and I think that's why were able to compete. They were able to see what this community was able to put on with very little resources." 

"This is a statewide award," she continued. "Advertising and visibility from receiving the award alone can't be understated. It gets peoples attention. Last year, our participation rose from 19 to 32 boats. I have no doubt that the award from 2015 played a big part in that." 

Murray said winning the award two years in a row puts pressure on them to outdo their prior success. 

"We've got plans in the works to make this year even bigger," she said. "There will be an extra event added for the evening after the Cardboard Boat Races and there is going to be a big surprise for all boat race participants." 

The 2017 World Championship Cardboard Boat Races are scheduled for Saturday, July 29.