Get Ready for the Great Illinois Raft Race


(Alton, IL – June 20, 2023) Race down the Illinois River on a homemade raft Saturday, July 8 during the annual Great Illinois River Raft Race which takes off once again along the Hardin riverfront.

Two raft races and a kayak race will highlight a full day of river-focused activities starting at 3 p.m. and ending at midnight. The raft races – featuring two separate classes of homemade rafts – begin at 4 p.m. Entry fees are $20 per person before July 8 and $30 the day of the race. Registration is on-going through July 8. Participants should register here:

The fun includes a Bags Competition, a kayak raffle, a basket drop, live music, bounce houses, food, beer garden, vendors and games. Radio station 92.3 will also do a live remote from the Hardin riverfront from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will also be a fireworks how after dark. This is a free event and open to the public.

“There’s nothing like watching a bunch of homemade rafts try to race down the Illinois River,” said Cory Jobe, President/CEO of the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau. “Participants build all different kinds of rafts and then use everything from paddles to diving flippers to propel the rafts down the river. This is great family-fun and highlights the Illinois River in Hardin.”

There are two different classes of raft races: one is for homemade rafts with a one to six person team and the second features homemade rafts with teams of two and up. A kayak race on the river precedes the raft races starting at 3 p.m.

Race participants must be 18 years or older and sign a waiver. Rules and regulations will be provided to racers. Winners will receive a cash prize. There are also prizes for rafts in a variety of different categories.

For more information on the race and the event, please contact Patrick Simon at 618-535-1715 or by email at


(The Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau is a certified Destination Marketing Organization serving Madison, Jersey, Calhoun, Macoupin, Montgomery and Greene counties and the City of East St Louis in St Clair County. The bureau is dedicated to educating visitors about the region by providing information regarding the area’s history, unique landmarks, recreational opportunities, leisure attractions, special events and scenic marvels.)