BRANT LAKE With a captain’s hat perched on his head, Eric Isachsen stood in the rain Saturday shortly before noon, gazing at the mill pond where the Great Brant Lake Duck Race would be held in a few minutes.
His duties as race “Quackmaster” would normally require him to guide the many hundreds of plastic ducks through a wooden channel towards a finish line, he said.
In the last several years, the weather has posed challenges, he added. Several years ago, the wind blew the ducks out of the channel, and the firefighters raced all over the pond in a boat attempting to round up the little plastic quackers. This year, the rain prompted the race officials to forgo dumping the plastic ducks off the mill pond’s upper-dam bridge, and the winners would instead be selected randomly out of a heap of ducks in the Horicon Fire Co. firehall, he continued.
Holding a minnow net, Adam Schultz, 10, stood nearby in the drizzle outside the firehouse, and talked about his hopes for winning a prize in the annual race. This year, few people showed up due to the rain, and his chances of winning, however slim, were boosted with the low turnout, he said.
Several years ago, his mother had made a deal with his babysitter that if she went to the firehouse and bought several entries for him, she could have half the proceeds if they won, the boy added.
“My mom thought the prize that year would be $10 or so,” Adam said with a grin. “But we won and we had to split $180 with our babysitter.”
As the boy was recalling the incident, several hundred more people showed up in the minutes before the annual duck race.
The morning’s rain subsided, and this last-minute crowd boosted the turnout beyond last year, race organizers said.