In the contest zone, among the tents of the Extravaganza’s village, a hundred or so volunteers were preparing to drill 20,000 ice-fishing holes.Strike Master, a maker of gas-powered ice augers, had provided 60 machines.Folks with snowmobiles and ATVs were standing around, waiting until they would be needed to cruise the ice and refuel the drilling teams.Some snowmobile conversation: “I was goin’ along on my snowmobile on Tomahawk Trail by Lake Vermilion, doin’ about 70, at seven o’clock in the morning, and I look up and here’s a DNR guy with a radar gun—up in a tree!Volunteers handle the logistics and labor, the selected charities get all the money, and the influx of visitors helps local businesses.
A Jaycee named Mike Kuck, while setting up a sound system that was playing “Dare,” by Gorillaz, deafeningly, saw me sliding by and shouted, “You gotta get some ice cleats!” Then the music suddenly stopped, and in a more normal voice he told me where I could buy them.He and some other Jaycees had arranged the tents and a few trailers at a kind of mini village, and we stood in its main intersection, its Times Square.C., motel where I had spent three nights earlier that winter while attending the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March. When I traversed a less frequented area, I could hear how the ice itself sounded.
I showed them the large, itchy bedbug bites I had acquired on my right shin as souvenirs of the new administration. Then: “Back when there was DDT, you never saw a bedbug,” Christian said. They banned it, and now we have bald eagles again,” Thomas said. “So what do you want: bald eagles and bedbugs, or no bedbugs and no bald eagles? It creaked and groaned, and twice it made a muffled boom that started the ice fragments rustling and tinkling with a sound that shot to the horizon like the trail of a rocket sled.The guy said, “Sure.” When they asked him where the best place for that might be, he looked at them and said, “Uh, anywhere.” So they drove a mile or so farther and started spinning the SUV all over, doing 180’s and 360’s and 720’s and so on, until they hit an ice rut and knocked a rear tire off its rim.