Avoca Fire Department to set ducks racing with ‘Quack Off’

It’s the 41st annual “Quack Off.” The shouts of thousands of people and quacks of hundreds of ducks will overtake the village of about 180.
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 9:24 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It’s a return to tradition in Avoca, Nebraska, a tradition that spans four decades.

“Two local members of the community had a bar bet of who had the fastest duck, and they went down to one of the local ponds about January time,” TJ Goepfert, the Avoca fire chief, said. “It was frozen over. And they raced their ducks on the ice. And that’s where it all started.”

It’s the 41st annual “Quack Off.” The shouts of thousands of people and quacks of hundreds of ducks will overtake the village of about 180.

“It has a very great atmosphere,” Austin Nielsen, the Avoca fire captain, said. “Everybody that comes here, most of them have come year after year after year. So they made friends in the past year. So it’s almost like a gigantic family reunion with a lot of alcohol.”

The Avoca Fire Department puts on the event. You can register to race a duck, yours or the event planners’ at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

“We’ve got a trailer with ducks,” Goepfert said. “You can go out and pick out your duck. Go to the starting line, five at a time. Single elimination. Put your duck down on the ground. When they say go, you let go of your duck and basically do anything you can to chase behind it.”

But your duck can foul out if it starts flying instead of running. The races will be limited to 200 ducks, so organizers recommend coming early. All proceeds for that $40 registration will go to the Avoca Fire Department, helping them to pay for equipment and repairs.