CLARK LAKE, MI– The Great American Crab Races, Run Clark Lake and Raft-O-Rama have been Clark Lake traditions for decades.

Last year, none of these events happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year they’re back.

The Great American Crab Races

Crab races will start on Thursday, July 22, and continue until the evening of Saturday, July 24. Kids races are 1 p.m. Saturday and adult races start each night at 6 p.m.

The event’s set up has changed slightly for this year but will still take place at the Beach Bar & Restaurant , 3505 Ocean Beach Road. The 43 races will take place outdoors instead of inside, said Linda Reynolds, even co-chairperson. Masks are optional and tables are already set up for social distancing, she said.

Races begin by buying a ticket and naming a crab. The winning crab is the one that makes the quickest trek from the center of the table to outside of a painted ring.

M-R Builder is the event’s major sponsor. Those who sponsor the event are benefitting the Clark Lake Spirit Trail, Napoleon Boosters, Napoleon Lions Club and Columbia Programs.

The event typically raises about $10,000 for the groups, Reynolds said.

“It’s great, the sponsors are already willing and able,” Reynolds said.

To sponsor a race, businesses can find the form here. A sponsorship costs $100.


An even longer tradition is the annual Raft-O-Rama which has been at Clark Lake for 60 years. The raft-decoration theme this year is the ‘60s.

There is no cost to enter, all participants need is their imagination and enthusiasm, said Joe Collins, committee co-chairperson. The event is set for 10 a.m. Aug. 8, and will start at Eagle Point Marina, 1155 Eagle Point Road.

“We encourage everyone possible to participate,” Collins said.

Not only will decorated rafts be a spectacle, but patrons can also enjoy a water slide, raffles, music, a photo booth and chicken barbecue by the Lions Clubs. Rafts will be up for several awards.

Cardboard will be provided as well, but a pick up location and time are yet to be decided, Collins said.

Revenue from merchandise and sales will be donated to the Clark Lake Spirit Trail, Clark Lake Garden Angels, Clark Lake Community Center and other nonprofit organizations.

Run Clark Lake

Run Clark Lake is back on for 2021 and set for Aug. 7. There are three race distances the 12K, 5K run or walk and the kids run.

The event is presented by Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists, Experience Jackson and JTV.

It’s exciting to have the race return this year, said Melissa Pohorence, community outreach coordinator for Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists.

“We’re just really excited that in-person racing is happening around Jackson,” Pohorence said. “In this area, there’s just been so much waiting and anticipation of people wanting to get out and be a part of community events.”

The race will start at the Beach Bar & Restaurant. Once more details are set, information will be available here and at the Orthopaedic Rehab Specialists website.


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