Tripod placed for Nenana Ice Classic

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 4:07 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Sunday, March 7th, the Nenana Ice Classic tripod was placed on the Tanana River setting its 2021 season off and running.

The annual contest is held on the river as it passes the city of Nenana, and involves guessing when the tripod, connected to a clock near the riverbank, will fall through the melting river ice, with the closest guess winning.

The river ice hit 45.5 inches thick as the tripod was laid, marking the 105th year of the contest.

The earliest the tripod has given out was April 14th, two years ago. Meanwhile, the latest was May 20th, which happened in 1964 and 2013.


Tickets to predict when the river will break up are now on sale.

The event has been held since 1917, and roughly 275,000 tickets are sold each year.

The event typically hires people to count the submitted tickets.

Cherrie Forness has been managing the event for 26 years. She said that last year, sales were down by around 95,000 tickets as the state shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Forness, most years see someone correctly guessing the exact minute the tripod stops the clock.

“Generally, it floats downriver on ice. After it’s moved 100 feet, it triggers the mechanism in the tower to stop the clock, and I mean it can tip over and sit there for a week, or it can float in towards the bank and sit there for a day or two, or a couple of hours. You just never know, so that’s what’s good about this. It’s mother nature’s call,” she said.

Tickets can be purchased at a variety of locations in Fairbanks and North Pole until April 5th.

A full list of locations can be found on the event’s website.

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