It may feel like spring will never come to Minnesota, but think warm. The deadline is coming up for Ely's annual Ice Out Contest.

The Ely Echo newspaper and Grand Ely Lodge sponsor the friendly competition, in which people guess the date and time that a boat could first cross Shagawa Lake near town.

It isn't just a local contest. Past winners have come from states including Ohio and Alabama, Echo publisher Anne Swenson said. Last year's winner, from Iowa, came closest to the ice-out time of 7:17 p.m. on March 27.

"People take great pride in not only how they're going to vote but that they know someone who won or they might know somebody who won," Swenson said. "It's just a stitch."

The winner gets $100 in guest bucks to the lodge. All entries must be received by March 26, unless ice is already out by then. To register your best guess, send an e-mail to See contest details at

Pam Louwagie