AVOCA, Neb. (KOLN) - Duck racing is not an exact science.

Sometimes they flutter their wings and bolt in the wrong direction. Sometimes, they stop as if tired, leaving their human companions begging for a little more enthusiasm on the trek to the finish line, but some people seem to know what they’re doing, like 2019 ‘Quack Off’ champion Kris Simmons.

Simmons brought her own ducks to the completion.

“We feed them,” Simmons said. “We might get them out in the barn and race them once or twice a year, but we just keep them exercised. There’s really nothing magic about it.”

The more than 250 competitors were looking for some kind of magic on the raceway in front of a crowd of thousands, ferried to the tiny town of Avoca, Nebraska by a legion of party buses for the 41st annual Quack Off.

“Not the biggest crowd we had,” said TJ Goepfert, the Avoca fire chief. “Not the smallest crowd we had, but just an excellent turnout.”

The event, put on by the Avoca Volunteer Fire Department, casts a wide net. Folks traveled to town from surrounding states and even further.

“I flew in from New York City, Manhattan to attend this event,” Nick Castner, a spectator, said.

This was Castner’s fourth time at the Quack Off. He grew up in Nebraska and made the trip to visit family and watch the Quack off.

“This is the type of event that can only happen in Nebraska,” Castner said.

It’s the largest fundraiser for the Avoca Volunteer Fire Department. Part of the proceeds from registration fees ultimately goes to a good cause, helping them pay for equipment and repairs.

“Everybody is ready to just go have some fun, get out and be together and support a small town cause,” Simmons said.