Deadline Nears to Guess Ice-Out

Published 03/27 2014 05:56PM

Updated 03/27 2014 07:25PM

DANVILLE, Vt. - Officials are warning of thinning ice, but for some in the Northeast Kingdom, that means the competition is just getting started. Frozen Joe's Pond, nestled between Danville, Cabot, and Walden, may look sleepy this time of year, but appearances are deceiving.

Diane Rossi of the Joe's Pond Association says thousands have already guessed the ice-out date. This annual contest dates back to the late '80s, and attracts international attention.

"I know when I first started we were counting four hundred tickets, and that was in the early 2000s," she said.

Other locals like Jane Larrabee of Hastings Store say participation has spiked as word of this old-fashioned fun spreads.

"I think it’s a topic of conversation other than the weather, and you know, the sad and unhappy things that are happening in the news,” Larrabee said.

Ice-out is declared when a cinder block perched on a pallet, and connected to a clock, falls through the ice.

"When the pallet goes down, or gets blown too far away, or starts to tip it pulls the plug out," Rossi said.

That stops the clock, and determines the winner who gets half of the money raised after association expenses are paid. That's usually four to five thousand dollars. The other half funds Fourth of July fireworks over the pond.

Since the contest started, the earliest ice-out date was April 5th, back in 2010. The latest date, May 6th. This year experts around Joe's Pond say we could be close to that record latest date because the ice is so thick.

"I think it's between two and a half and three feet, with quite a bit of snow slush on top of it," Rossi estimates.

But it's really anyone's guess.

"It could get to 80 next week, and stay 80, and then it might go- who knows," she added.

Most winners are from Vermont, but others from New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, and even Florida have won.

With so much money on the line, the pallet is monitored constantly by webcams streaming online.

To view the live stream, and find out where you can buy tickets by the April 1st deadline, click here.

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