"I picked April 16th because it's been kinda warm and it's my nephew's birthday," said Anne Poitras of West Danville.
That's the date that Poitras hopes the ice goes out on Joe's Pond -- her father has bought the Ice Out tickets for years. "He always buys them; Like a ticket for everyone in the family, so I just had to keep the tradition going and get a ticket and hopefully guess the right day," Poitras said.
The contest started in 1988. People buy a ticket for a dollar, then make a guess when the ice will give way. A clock is tethered to a cement block and palette lying on the ice. When it goes down, the clock stops, and this is the official ice out time.
The original clock lost its second hand, so this year there's a new, weatherproof clock. The clock set-up used to be located within the pond's fishing area. This meant it couldn't be placed on the water near the end of ice fishing season. To avoid this problem, it's been moved up the pond.
"It stays out of the traffic of the fisherman too, so we don't risk the line being cut by snowmobiles, trucks, or shanty's or anything," said Ice Out Committee member Diane Rossi.
When the contest first started, only a few hundred tickets were sold. In more recent years the number has topped 10,000. The winner of the contest takes home half of the pot. Last year that was more than $5,000. Officials are hoping for similar numbers this year.
Anne Poitras already knows what she would do with the money. "Probably some place warm where I don't have to worry about ice," she said.
With so much money involved, a new camera monitors the ice out clock 24/7. "It's a security, it's got a DVR that will record motion around it," Rossi said.
This year at least 5000 tickets have already been counted, and the final number is estimated to be around 9 to 11-thousand.
In past year's you could only pay for tickets at various Vermont retail stores. But this year you can purchase them online. "The thing about buying them online though is that you have to buy 10," said Ice Out Committee Member Fred Brown.
Tickets remain on sale through April 1st.
The money left over after the winner gets paid goes towards the Fourth of July fireworks on Joe's Pond.
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