On Saturday, 1,509 youngsters visited Roaring River State Park to enjoy the warm temperatures and participate in the park's annual spring Kids' Fishing Day.
"The conservation agents didn't have to give out any tickets in the Kids' Fishing Day area," said Dean, "Although our numbers were a little down from last year, it was a fantastic event, and we had more prizes than we have ever had."
Kids under the age of 15, who visited the park on Saturday, were awarded a free trout fishing tag and an assortment of prizes, including Roaring River fishing caps that were donated by Jim Rogers Concessions.
Jennifer Logan, Cassville Wal-Mart Supercenter assistant manager, took photos of all youngsters who landed their first fish or reeled in a fish that weighed more than 1.75 pounds. First Fish applications were completed by 70 young anglers.
"Jennifer took more than 88 photos," said Dean. "We had 18 big fish pictures."
In addition to a free day of trout fishing, youngsters were able to participate in over 30 different outdoor education classes.
This year, 504 kids attended at least two classes and were rewarded with a free fishing tag that can be used at Roaring River anytime before the fall kids' fishing event. Youngsters who attended two Kids' Fishing Day classes were also able to select from a variety of prizes, including T-shirts, books and toys.
Kids who attended more than two classes had the opportunity to enter a drawing for larger prizes. At the end of the day, volunteers awarded camp stoves, Dutch ovens, bicycles, knives and fishing equipment to over 200 children.
"Steve Allgood, a volunteer from Joplin, talked to Academy Sports and Outdoors, which has never donated before," said Dean. "This year, they donated $1,000 in goods that we either used or gave away during the event."
Fly rods and reels were awarded to five youngsters who entered a drawing by attending at least one fly fishing class.
Alex Nuwcumb, from Bartlesville, Okla., and Tyson Hallman, from Scammon, Kan., won fly fishing rods and reels donated by David Waugh. Charles Stock, of Mid-West Flies, donated fly fishing rods and reels, which were won by Valerie Ray, of Wheaton, and Logan Evans, of Wichita, Kan.
Chase Golubski, of Pierce City, won a fly fishing rod and reel donated by the MAKO Fly Fishing Club. MAKO also donated a fly tying kit, which was awarded to Luke Rauch, of Springfield.
An Alpine bow was also donated by Chris Berry, a representative of Alpine Bows who taught archery classes during the kids' fishing event. The bow was awarded to Caleb Keen, of Rogers, Ark.
Trophies for the largest fish and stringers were also awarded during the closing ceremonies. Kayleb Galaway, of Centerton, Kan., won the largest fish competition in the boys' division with a 6.82-pound catch. Colton Holmberg, of Hutchison, Kan., won the boys' division largest stringer competition with 15.4 pounds of fish.
Leann Maloney, from Bolivar, won the largest fish competition in the girls' division with a 4.76-pound trout. Maloney also won the largest stringer competition in the girls' division with a 10.46-pound stringer.
Youngsters who reeled in fish that weighed over three pounds were entered into a drawing for a free mount.
Billy Barnett, from Udall, Kan., won a free mount donated by Russ Pendergraft, of Visions of Wildlife Taxidermy in Cassville. Barnett's big fish weighed 6.8 pounds.
Eli Chamberlain, from Rogers, Ark., won a free mount donated by Mark Jones of Visions Taxidermy in Gateway, Ark. Chamberlain reeled in a trout that weighed 3.4 pounds.
Over 75 volunteers attended Kids' Fishing Day to assist young anglers. Nearly two dozen volunteers were representatives of the Missouri Department of Conservation. Other volunteers were from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Neosho National Fish Hatchery and MAKO Fly Fishing Club.
Volunteers who have participated in Kids' Fishing Day for over 10 years were recognized during the closing ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
Honored volunteers included: Jay D and Leila Browning, of Aurora; Lonnie and Connie McCullough, of Cassville; Rebecca Bishop, of Seligman; Jerry Dudley, of Fayetteville, Ark.; Steve Bolinger, of Springfield; Charlie Buttrey, of Decatur, Ark.; Charles Knapp, of Rogers, Ark.; Junior and Clarise Stephens, of Olathe, Kan.; Wilbur Reed, of Independence, Kan.; and Leo Steinbrecher, of Eureka Springs, Ark.
Saturday's event will be featured on an episode of Bass Pro Shops' Next Generation television show later this summer. A camera crew videotaped youngsters fishing and participating in outdoor classes throughout the day on Saturday.
The 2008 spring Kids' Fishing Day at Roaring River was sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Department of Natural Resources, Jim Rogers Concessions, Charlie Stock and Mid-West Flies, Mark Jones Taxidermy, Russ Pendergraft's Visions of Wildlife Taxidermy, Les Jacobs Ford-Mercury, MAKO Fly Fishing Club, Wal-Mart, Berkley, Fuji Film, Able 2 Products, Chris Berry and Alpine Bows, Luck-E-Strike, Freedom Bank, the Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce, Haverner's Fisherman's Inn, Bank of America, Cassville Ramey, Commerce Bank, Security Bank, Tim's Fly Shop, Academy Sports and Outdoors and other local businesses
Roaring River will host its 2008 fall Kids' Fishing Day on Aug. 16.