Burst of Cold keeps the Joe's Pond Ice Out Contest on Track

Burst of Cold keeps the Joe's Pond Ice Out Contest on Track

WEST DANVILLE, Vt. - Every year thousands of people across the world wager on two cinder blocks that eventually fall through the ice.

It all started in 1989 with a group of snowmobiles riders and a little cabin fever at Joe's pond.

"Every winter they would wager as to when the ice might go out," said Jane Brown, Co-chair of Joe's Pond Association.

That's when the Joe's Pond Ice Out contest took shape.

For a dollar, people could buy a ticket and guess when two cinder blocks attached to a clock would fall through the ice.

When the clock stops, that's the end of the contest and the person with the closet time wins the prize money.

The first year, Joe's Pond Association sold 400 tickets.

That was then and this is now.

"I think last year we sold 16,000 tickets," said Brown.

16,000 tickets all over the world.

"Very often we get some from Europe, Switzerland and so forth. This year I saw one come in from Japan," said Brown.

The owner of Hastings Store in West Danville said he's been selling tickets for this year's contest since May.

"Almost everyday we sell a ticket or more. Some come in, they get 20 or 30," said Garey Larrabee, Hastings Store Owner.

With so many people wagering on a relatively low-tech system, the late start to winter made some people in town nervous.

"Even though it's late for the ice getting in the pond, freezing it up it's still pretty thick," said Larrabee.

"A lot of people were asking us could we have an ice-in contest. So we were a little worried too," said Brown.

The lake has frozen over twice this year, ripe conditions for setting up around the first of March.

"Usually it gets to be 2 to 3 feet thick and already they've got ice shanties out there. A car was out there, so we're making it up fast," said Brown.

Once a cure for boredom to now a way to raise money for the community.

No one really knows why so many people place their bets on the concrete blocks, but one thing is for sure there will be a winner.

Last year's winner was from Connecticut and won $6,000 dollars.

That was half of the earnings, the other half goes into the association to keeping the pond clean and for recreational use, including July 4th's fireworks.

For more details about the contest-- http://joespondvermont.com/

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