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Missing March Madness? Try Small-Town Ice Betting

Hatfield Point, Canada is deep into their annual Bay Ice-Break-Up Contest.


While their southerly neighbors are still hung up on March Madness, the good people of Hatfield Point, Canada have moved on to a far better game. Every year, residents of the small town, which sits right at the head of Belleisle Bay, place bets on when the local ice will break.

The competition, known as the Belleisle Bay Ice-Break-Up Contest, is hosted by the Belleisle Watershed Coalition. Competitors buy $2 tickets and write down the date and time, to the minute, that they expect the ice to give.

Then… they wait. “There is a tripod set up on the ice with a flag,” Sharon Cunningham explained to the CBC. “We monitor it with a security camera.” When they see a shift, they figure out the winner, who gets half the proceeds. (The other half goes to the Watershed Coalition—which seems fair, considering that the athlete here is basically the river.)

Although this is only the contest’s third year, Hatfield Point residents have been paying attention to the ice’s timing for centuries, providing records that date back to 1897.

“It’s the most exciting thing that happens here,” Cunningham said.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.