Pictured: Debbie Harville and Tem Miller spent Thursday morning tuning up several dozen fishing poles, in preparation for Saturday's Fishing Derby. Photo by MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Goal of fishing derby is to keep children active

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

Fix your rods and pack your tackle, Saturday's Kids Fishing Derby at Lake Findley is expected to be the largest in the five-year history of the event, with fishing games, food and activities for Alicians of all ages.

"This weekend's event is a wonderful opportunity to get families together and give kids an idea of what's available to do outdoors," Director of Alice Parks and Recreation Debbie Harville said. "The goal is for the kids not to be couch potatoes or game potatoes, but to get out there and experience nature."

Registration will start at 8:30 a.m., with the Derby going from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Contests will be held for who bags the first fish, the biggest fish, the smallest fish and the most fish during the derby. There will also be a casting contest off to the side, for several different age groups, with the top two in each division receiving a prize.

Much of the support for the event came from the local Wal-Mart Superstore, which provided food and prizes for the event, along with $1,000 in support of the effort, and 10 store volunteers to help out with the day's events. Harville said the event couldn't have been accomplished to this extent without their support.

"The Wal-Mart All-American Kids Fishing Derby is the national sponsor of the event, and the local group has proven to be extremely supportive," Harville said.

Local veteran fishermen will also be out there in full force to support the derby participants and lend their expert knowledge. Games, prizes, snacks and lunch will be provided during the completely free event.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own fishing rods, but for those kids who do not own one, the department has equipment on hand that the children can use. A lack of a fishing pole is no excuse not to come out and have a good time. Harville said people should bring chairs or blankets to sit on at the lake, along with sunscreen and their own bait if they desire. Organizers will have worms, frozen shrimp and corn available for participants to use as bait. Mosquito spray and wipes will also be available.

"We also have prizes available for adults who bring their children here. Without them, the children wouldn't be there, and we want to acknowledge that," Harville said.

Movies in the Park will still go on tonight at Anderson Park as scheduled, despite the Fishing Derby Saturday morning. The movie this week will be the cartoon "Barnyard" and all families are invited to attend.