The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat: Worm racing in Rhinelander
Story and photos by Lori Adler
This week, Rhinelander District Library held their 31st annual worm racing event on the library lawn. Anticipation for this race is great, and kids travel from all across Rhinelander to take part in this historic occasion.
Kids race in teams of two, where siblings, friends, or even grandparents can be a child’s teammate. The competition is intense. Worms are given out race day to keep everything fair (and to prevent excessive training or steroid use). Kids only get a short time for prepare their worms for races, though they are advised to simply let their worms rest and keep them out of the sun. Some talk to their worms, others attempt to feed them grass to bulk up, all name their worms.
Teams are divided into race tables. There are heat races of 4-5 worms at each table. To begin the race, each team dangles its worm over the plate in the center of the table. When “go” is announced, the worms are dropped onto the plate. Once a worm gets completely off the plate, the timer begins the two-minute countdown. The first worm to get to the outer circle on the table wins. If no worm reaches the outer circle within the two minutes, the closest one is declared the winner.
Tables are sprayed with water before the start of each race to encourage the worms to move, but the cheers of the crowd obviously have an effect as well.
Winners of each heat then race against each other to determine a table winner. Each table winner proceeds to the grand championship where all table winners go against each other for one final race. The top three teams are awarded trophies, but even those who don’t win get treats of gummy worms so all is not lost.
This very exciting annual event is great fun for everyone involved. It is also quite popular with 60 teams participating this year. Those wishing to participate next year should follow the Rhinelander library website as pre-registration is required. For more information on this and other wonderful children’s events, visit rhinelanderlibrary.org.