Icy Goals: Tournaments Bring Weekend of Outdoor Fun in NH
Photo/Facebook —1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Championship
This weekend, double the ice is twice as nice.
Two long-running New Hampshire winter favorites, the Meredith Rotary Club annual Ice Fishing Derby and the Black Ice Pond Hockey Tournament, will both be held this weekend.
The hockey tournament celebrates New Hampshire, and specifically Concord's, long history with the sport of ice hockey. Competition is at the center of the multi-day event, but food trucks, music and other entertainment all work together to warm the crowd who gather to cheer on teams with names such as the Early Morning Pickups, Against Medical Advice, Pond Jovi and Dogs On Linoleum.
The event was originally scheduled for mid-January. Relatively warm weather meant it needed to be moved to this weekend.
"It was the right call," said Chris Brown, Black Ice board chairman. "All of a sudden it was 50 degrees that Saturday and a lot of sun. You can play when it's in the high 30s and 40s when it's overcast, but with any sun, the ice gets the consistency of a snow cone."
"It's a good day for set-up," Brown said Thursday. "Today and tomorrow will be ideal. Saturday we'll roll with the punches as it'll warm up a little bit."
"The ice is good," Brown said. "The staff at Concord Park and Rec spent all night plowing it off," he said, and ice surfaces have been renewed.
Further north in Meredith, the 39th-annual Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby will be weighing competitors' fish.
Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby/Facebook
A big catch can bring big bucks for anglers willing to put in the time on the water at any body of fresh water in the state who want to participate in this year's Derby. Cash and gear are up for grabs in a variety of drawings.
Even if you do not fish, a ticket purchased can lead to a trip for four to Disneyworld.
Derby chairman Don Trudeau said Thursday, "things are looking good," and ticket sales are doing well.
There are 15 sites across the state selling tickets, including hardware stores and bait shops, and online sales were running 10 percent over last year.
"Sales are so far running ahead of last year. We're really thrilled with that," he said.
But for derby organizers, safety is key.
"The good lord has been shining on us this year and giving us lots of ice," Trudeau said, with reports of a foot and, in some spots, more than two feet of ice in some spots.
"Even with a record year such as what we've got now, we always stress safety," he said. Though he was happy the midweek snow came and went, snow cover can make determining ice thickness very difficult.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department used the derby event as a chance to issue a general warning about winter ice.
"It is imperative that you personally check the ice thickness on a waterbody as you venture out on foot or before riding out on a snowmobile or off-highway recreational vehicle,” said Capt. Dave Walsh, who coordinates OHRV Enforcement and Safety Education for Fish and Game.
“Do not assume that just because the ice is safe in one location that it will be safe 100 yards farther away. If you don’t know, don’t go," Walsh said.
Fish and Game also warned people that thick ice does not always mean ice is safe. Ice can be thick, but not strong, because of varying weather conditions. Weak ice is formed when warming trends break down ice, then the slushy surface re-freezes.
People should be especially careful of areas with current, such as inlets, outlets, and spring holes, where the ice can be dangerously thin.