Who doesn’t love a good guessing game, especially when it relates to the weather?
For almost 15 years, Algonquin Outfitters has been challenging people to guess the date the ice will go out on Lake Opeongo in Algonquin Park, as good an indication as any that winter is behind us.
“People see us as the experts of the ‘ice out’,” says Randy Mitson, marketing director for Algonquin Outfitters. “There is always confusion on when people can start using our services so this contest celebrates the start of the season.”
The contest also has an educational aspect.
“While the ice-out date indicates when the ice is gone, we encourage people to wait until it gets a little warmer [to enjoy paddling and watersports] as the waters will still be freezing,” says Mitson. “The game is just as much about education and safety as it is fun.”
Each year, Lake Opeongo’s ice-out date is determined by when the Algonquin Outfitters water taxis can safely navigate from the AO store at the Lake Opeongo access point to the North Arm of the lake.
Ice-out for Lake Opeongo, which is Algonquin Park’s largest lake, has ranged anywhere from March 29 (in 2012) to May 15 (1972); the average date is April 28.
The first 12 entrants who guess the correct 2021 ice-out date for Lake Opeongo will receive a coupon for $25 off when they spend $100 or more at AO. One winner will be chosen by random draw for a $150 AO gift card.
“We put hints and clues in the rules so be sure to read the rules,” says Mitson. “There is a graph in there too so don’t miss the rules, but the trend seems to be that we are still having ice in the water way later in the season.”
AO launched this year’s contest on Monday, March 1 and within 24 hours had almost 800 entries. In previous years there have been about 1,000 entries over the month that the contest was run.
The increase in entries has likely been caused by the same thing that has caused a big uptick in equipment rentals at AO: COVID.
People are seeking outdoor activities more than ever before. AO has seen a huge increase in equipment rentals since the pandemic began, and encourages people to book well in advance for weekends in particular, but even weekday rentals book quickly.
Last year they purchased more canoes to meet the demand. With more than 700 canoes, AO has one of the largest lightweight canoe fleets in the world. They also rent everything from snowshoes and cross-country skis to camping gear, bikes, and water trampolines.
On Lake Opeongo, a popular paddling destination, AO also has four water taxis that can ferry up to eight people and four canoes across the lake. While some people choose to canoe to their campsites or backcountry entry point, it can take up to four hours to paddle to the other end of the lake, making the taxi an attractive option.
Enter the 2021 Algonquin Outfitters ice-out contest here. All entries must be submitted via the contest form prior to March 31.
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