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Cold doesn’t deter at Avoca Quack Off

Laramie Werner
Pictured are the finalists at this year's Avoca Quack Off.

The 40th Annual Avoca Quack Off did not disappoint Saturday, Jan. 25 when thousands flocked to Avoca for the duck races.  
The cold did not deter over 35 busloads of people and many more who drove in from all over.  It was estimated that the crowd was around 3000 in the small town of Avoca that day.
The Avoca Volunteer Fire Department started the event at the suggestion of the late Vern Dettmer as a way to raise funds for the department.  The 2020 QuackOff, which had 351 participants, was kicked off by Dettmer’s great-grandchildren in an adorable symbolic race.
Jenny Meyer and daughter Bri sang the National Anthem, and the race was on!  Participants named their ducks, and with entries like Streaker, Duck Norris, James Pond 007, Beaver, Low Fall Risk, and Mom’s Hangover the creativity soared.
From sledding down the hill in the park on a giant inflatable duck to standing by fire pits playing music to enjoying street performers to wandering around town, everyone found something to do to enjoy the 2020 Avoca QuackOff.  Many came dressed up in their best of “duck” attire, feather boas, or other fun costumes.
In his sixth year of racing, Ryan Leonardo of Omaha won the 2020 QuackOff with “Nard Duck.”  Second place went to Lillian Zapka of Gretna with “Runza.”  Jon Hemenway of Omaha received third place with “Breakfast,” and Olivia Muyres of Omaha and “Sir Quacks Alot” took fourth.
Leonardo came on a bus from Stoli’s Bar in Omaha, and he has enjoyed the races each year even though he only ever advanced once before now.  “It feels amazing!” he said of the win.  Friends told him about the QuackOff years ago and he’s been coming ever since.
The members of the Avoca Volunteer Fire Department spend hours preparing for and running the Quack Off each year.  The funds raised through the event allow them to purchase equipment for the department and participate in valuable training.