This year's winners are Zak and Coleen Ratliff, of Dwale. The couple received $500 for finding the winning egg.
The Great Easter Egg Hunt is an annual contest run by The Floyd County Times, in which an egg worth $500 is hidden somewhere in the county. The paper then publishes clues to its whereabouts, allowing readers to compete to see who can decipher its location first.
This year's egg was located at Spurlock Creek, near Prestonsburg. The egg was hidden under a bridge at the junction of Route 122 and Conley Fork Road, tucked behind a stone wall and covered with leaves and mud.
The egg was well hidden, given the fact that egg hunters were seen in the area up to a week before it was discovered. And for the first time in the contest's five-year history, the newspaper published all 12 clues before the egg was found.
Zak Ratliff agreed. “It was the toughest this year that it's ever been,” he said.
The Ratliffs have been participating in the egg hunt for the past three years and have become quite good at it. The ability to interpret the clues was in evidence last year when they arrived at the location of the hidden egg during the 2007 Great Easter Egg Hunt, only to be told that it had been found 15 minutes earlier by 15-year-old Chase Johnson, of Topmost.
The Ratliffs were hot on the trail of this year's egg early, figuring out that it was in the Spurlock area after the eighth clue, the “Math Quiz” clue. They even searched under the bridge twice before, only to come away empty handed, and they began looking in other areas nearby.
That changed when Sunday's clue referencing the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” fairy tale hit newsstands. “It was the very last clue that sent us back to the bridge,” Zak Ratliff said.
“It was so ironic, because we searched there earlier,” Coleen Ratliff said. “He was under the bridge, I was on top and I asked him, ‘Do you want to play the ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff'?”
Other clues that helped the ninth clue (the “boots and key” clue) and the tenth and eleventh clues that referenced the nearby Living Waters Ministries.
With their winnings, the Ratliffs plan to engage in another hunt of sorts. Zak Ratliff said he plans to use the money to buy his son a Nintendo Wii, the gaming console that has been in short supply and hard to find since its launch in November 2006.
“This is the best Easter egg hunt I've ever been on,” Zak Ratliff said.
Sponsors of this year's Great Easter Egg Hunt include:
Heritage House Hotel
Honda of Prestonsburg
Little Caesar's Pizza
McDowell Professional Pharmacy