The Avoca Quack Off celebrated its 25th season Saturday and set a new record for the number of ducks raced.


The Avoca Quack Off celebrated its 25th season Saturday and set a new record for the number of ducks raced.


The Quack Off, a fund raiser for the Avoca fire department and quick response team, began 25 years ago when Vern Dettmer challenged three buddies to a duck race on a frozen pond near the village of 200 inhabitants.


More than three times that number gathered at the city park Saturday to witness a record-setting day. There were a total of 86 teams, with four people per team, for a record of 340 races.


One of the teams, Team Miller, was led by Tim Dougherty, 43, of Lincoln. Three years ago he raced his first duck during his honeymoon with Meredith. Saturday’s race was also his birthday.
He said members of his wife’s high school class and all their friends were invited to join the team to race and to tailgate. “It’s all about friends getting together,” he said.


One of the most photographed race fans was Karen Wilt of Bellevue, who wore a duck costume that was created the very year Avoca residents first took to the ice with their ducks.


Wilt’s mother, Arlene Kiepert, made the duck costume for a theatrical performance at Peru State College. It has hung in a closet for most of the past two decades, until Wilt made her first appearance at the Quack Off.


“I think this is a wonderful fundraiser for the fire department,” she said. “I wish I had a dollar for every picture of me that’s been taken.”


Racers came from as far away as London, England. Brandon Smid of South Dakota said he also traveled a great distance to test the speed of his duck.


“She’s called Quackie Kersey Joiner and she is the athlete of the 21st Century,” he said, adding that their strategy was to run as fast as possible and “hope for the best.”