Ice Out

joes pondDANVILLE- A tradition 26 years strong, the annual "Ice Out" contest out on Joe's Pond in West Danville will soon be coming to a close as contestants, as well as North East Kingdom residents, eagerly await the clock to stop ticking, signaling that spring is truly here.


For only a dollar, contestants can by a chance, and take a guess. The annual contest that has been going on since 1988 has expanded beyond just the Northeast Kingdom. From only a few hundred participants in the inaugural contest it has now grown to now more than 12,000 annual entries. A simple game with a few friends started by Jules Chatot in 1987 has now grown into a nationwide contest with tickets being sold all over the country, to places as far away as California.

What many people may not know is, how does the contest actually work? "You have to guess the exact time that the pallet goes through the ice and it's connected to a clock and when that happens it will pull the power to the clock and that's how they get the time when it stops," said James Rafuse who is selling the "Ice Out" tickets at the Hastings Store in West Danville.

What the contest is, is actually like a 50/50 raffle. The money raised is split in half, half of the money going to the winner and the other half going to the Joe's Pond Association (JPA). The half that is sent to the JPA is then once again split with money being paid to a "data specialist" who keeps track of the dates and times submitted by the contestants, and the rest going to fund the annual fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

There is no exact science that goes into predicting when the ice will melt, it is all up to Mother Nature. Two years ago the Northeast Kingdom was experiencing record high temperatures sitting in the 70s, but this year there have been numerous record lows for this time of the year with temperatures constantly being in the single digits, or even negatives. Not to mention the abundance of snow that sill remains on the ground.

So does the prolonged cold affect the ticket sales? "Ultimately yes, because it comes down to the wire, it's not like it's going to go any day now. It could be anytime so people really like to cover the spread," Rafuse said.

Contestants can win thousands of dollars just by putting a dollar down, and making a guess, a nice result for such a little cost, "I hope so that would be nice," said Meredith Putvain a "Ice Out" ticket buyer.

The deadline for submission is April 1st and contestants can purchase their tickets all across the state of Vermont or, print them out online and submit them to one of the numerous locations spread across the state.

To find out more about the contest or to see the webcam that looks at the clock you can vist the Joe's Pond webiste.