FAIRBANKS - The jackpot in the Nenana Ice Classic is bigger than last year, but only by a small amount.
Event organizers say this year's jackpot is $303,895. Ice Classic manager Cherrie Forness said that's an increase of $623.
The Ice Classic, now in its 92nd year, is Alaska's version of a lottery. Thousands of people pay $2.50 a ticket to guess what date and time to the minute a tripod set up on the Tanana River ice at Nenana, 55 miles south of Fairbanks, will move downstream and trip a clock that is wired to shore.
Forness said judging from the looks of the ice, it will probably be another week before the tripod falls or moves.
Forness said ticket sales in Anchorage and Fairbanks appeared to be up. However, she said, vendors in the Bush didn't fare as well, probably because of the high price of fuel in rural areas.
"I noticed the village sales were down," Forness said. "I think that's where (the high price of fuel) hits the hardest."
Forness said while there is water on top of the ice as a result of snow melting, there are no open holes to be seen. The last ice measurement on April 21 was 40.5 inches.
According to a Tuesday update on the Nenana Ice Classic Web site, "The tripod is still standing firmly in place."
However, there are signs that could change any day now, Forness said.
The Nenana River, which flows into the Tanana River about a half mile downstream of where the tripod is set up, went out late Monday afternoon, she said. The Tanana River typically goes out seven to 10 days after the ice goes out on the Nenana River.
The same is true with the Chena River, which broke up in downtown Fairbanks on Tuesday.
This year's breakup is already later than last year's, when the ice went out April 27 at 3:47 p.m., making 22 winning ticket holders happy.