Families can catch a fun-filled morning at the upcoming 17th annual Youth Fishing Derby in Jacksonville.
The annual event, cosponsored by Arkansas Game and Fish and the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department, will take place June 21 at Dupree Park Lake.
“It started as a way to encourage kids to be involved in fishing,” said Dana Rozenski, recreation program supervisor for the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department.
Children 15 and younger are invited to bring their fishing equipment and bait to participate in the free event. Rozenski said there will be prizes for the most fish caught, the longest fish caught, the smallest fish caught, the oldest fisher and the youngest fisher.
In the past, some of the youngest fishers have been young enough to be sitting in their strollers while holding onto their poles, and Rozenski said participation overall has been growing the past few years.
“We’ve had over 100 registered the past few years,” she said.
While the derby is an event specifically for children 15 and younger, family members of all ages come out and enjoy fishing on the day of the event.
“That’s one of the great things about fishing,” Rozenski said. “Anyone can do it. You don’t have to be athletic to fish.”
For Rozenski, one of the best aspects of the derby is seeing the same kids year after year.
“You get to see the kids grow up,” she said. “They get excited to come out, and for some of them, this is the only time they’ll fish this year. It’s cool to hear the older kids come to help out, too.”
Some of the children who have participated in the annual fishing derby have gone on to work in the parks department, and Marlo Jackson, Jacksonville Parks and Recreation marketing and program manager, said events like this are important to get younger residents interested and thankful for the parks.
“We need more pride in our parks,” she said.
The derby will take place from 8-10 a.m., but Jacksonville city officials anticipate that families will stick around for more fun.
“Typically, a lot of families stay and fish,” Jackson said. “This year, we’re also doing a family fun event afterward.”
The Family Fun Day following the derby will include free food and activities. The secondary event ties into the Park of the Month program started by the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Department.
“We were doing some Park of the Month events, so the Family Fun Day is going to tag along with that,” Jackson said.
Dupree Park Lake will be stocked with catfish from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for the derby. The lake may be closed a few days prior to the event so the lake can be stocked.
Registration for the 17th annual Youth Fishing Derby will take place from 7-8 a.m. at Dupree Park Lake on the day of the event. The derby will last for two hours; then the Family Fun Day will begin.
For more information, call (501) 982-4171 or visit www.cityofjacksonville.net.
Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.