When most people hear the words “wood tick”, they usually run in the other direction. But there’s a place in northern Wisconsin where it’s the ticks that do the running. Michele Good went to check out the 39th Annual Wood Tick Race in northern Wisconsin.
Michele: Hi, is this the registration desk?
Whitney (at the registration desk): Yes!
Bar patron: This is where you buy insects….
Michele: I’m at North Country’s Hardwood Café in Loretta, Wisconsin, about halfway between Park Falls and Hayward and I’m staring at a stack of little take-out condiment cups – each one with a wood tick inside. I will never look at tartar sauce the same way again.
Michele: I didn’t realize you could buy…the tick.
Whitney: Yes, you can buy the tick for dollar and you just have to pay to register it.
Terry: I’m Terry. My [tick’s] name is Tic Tac.
Whitney: Okay and there was one more with ya. (Turning to another racer) And your tick’s name is…?
Michele: Where did you find them?
Terry: Just walk outside.
Doug: Yeah, they’re all over the place.
Michele: And, it’s much more competitive than you would expect.
Contestant: Last year’s winner…he got a tick off his dog. He took it off for a couple of days then he would put it on a couple days take it off for a couple of days.
Michele: So training regimes. It’s the steroids of tick racing.
Judge Tim Koback: Thank you for coming to Suzie’s to keep the wood tick tradition in order. First two ticks are Whalen and Christine. Two on deck are Speedy and French Tickler. Whalen and Christine, are we ready?!
Michele: Oh my God, so they plopped them down.
Judge Tim Koback: And they’re off.
Owner of Christine: Do you know whose is whose?
Owner of Whalen: Yeah, that’s yours. Oh, that’s gonna win.
Owner of Christine: That is Christine.
Owner of Whalen: She’s going back to get help.
Michele: Christine is fast. Named after your wife?
Owner of Christine: Yeah, I did.
Owner of Whalen: Whalen’s drunk.
Michele: Whalen’s just walking in a circle.
Owner of Whalen: He hasn’t even gotten out of the circle yet.
Michele: Oh Christine, you were so close.
Owner of Christine: Now, you’re going the right way.
Michele: Christine’s nearly back to where she started.
Owner of Whalen: Just get mine out of the circle.
Michele: He’s still in the circle.
Owner of Whalen: Just get out of the circle.
Michele: Oh, Christine’s making her move. Oh no, she’s going back to help Whalen. Not sure where to go.
Michele: Oh, oh, here it goes, here it goes!
(CHEER and sound of tick being smashed with gavel.)
Michele: And Whalen has been smashed.
Judge Tim Koback: Speedy and French Tickler.
Michele: And there’s one dead tick.
Judge Tim Koback: London and Tick Tock on deck.
Michele: Oh my God, there’s a loose one.
Judge Tim Koback: Can someone pick their winning tick up?
Judge Tim Koback: Speedy. We’re looking for Speedy.
Michele: These people are not in control…you don’t want to mix alcohol and ticks. I just want to say that for the record.
Judge Tim Koback: And they’re off….
Michele: They said that a couple of years ago, there were like 120 [ticks]?
Winnie: Yeah, we had quite a few. We had quite a few. I mean the bar was absolutely packed.
Michele: Hard to wrangle that many ticks.
Larry: A dollar entry. Winner takes all. So you usually walk with 45-50 dollars.
Michele: That’s nice. Nice Saturday.
Larry: Big money in the Northwoods. And a couple of beers, you know.
Michele: Yeah, can’t go wrong.
Winnie: I mean, what else are you going to do right before the holiday weekend. You know? It’s always something to do, we always have fun up here.
Michele: They certainly do. After three and half hours racing and 42 dead ticks, Scott “Scooter” Smith of New Richmond took home the trophy with his tick, Bloodsucker.
Click the link to download a video of a competition: Wood Tick Race