Numbers up for Kids' Fishing Day event

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Siblings and cousins Brayden Hawkins, 10, left, Hailey Boyd, 8, Hunter Evans, 3 and Jonathan Hawkins Jr., 3, show off their catch at Kids' Fishing Day Saturday at Roaring River State Park. From Carl Junction and Carthage, it was their first time to stay at the park. Julia Kilmer

Over 1,000 children registered to fish Saturday for Kids' Fishing Day at Roaring River State Park, according to Paul Spurgeon, hatchery manager for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

"We had a perfect day weather-wise," Spurgeon said. "We ended up with 1,005 kids, plus all their parents and families. It was a picture-perfect day.

"Considering we usually get in the 800 or 900 range for fall, I'd say the numbers were well up. We had a lot of good entries."

After observing crawdads and other species at the Missouri Stream Team table, fascinated children offered to help the vendor free the crawdads in the river toward the end of the day. In return, the vendor gave them each a bandana. Julia Kilmer

Along with fishing, various vendors were on hand to teach and entertain children about streams, survival skills and river species like crawdads, trout, crappie and blue gill.

"It was a huge crowd," Spurgeon said.

Bands Timberline, Ozark Mountain Revival and others provided music to entertain the crowd.

Beginning in 1981, the fishing event for kids has grown exponentially and celebrated its 35th anniversary this year.

"It went from a small event to the huge event it is today," Spurgeon said. "You see people here who started when they were kids, and now, they're bringing their kids.

Spurgeon said 3,000 12-1/2-inch rainbow trout and 100 lunkers were stocked in the river for the young anglers to catch, and staff also weighed the fish and recognized those who caught the biggest fish.

David Waugh, the manager of concessions, was also presented with an award for his service.

Kailey Williams, 17, of Carthage, enjoys a tranquil fishing experience with mother Melissa Williams, who taught her how to fish at a young age at Roaring River State Park. The two attended Kids' Fishing Day held at the park Saturday. Julia Kilmer

"They do an awful lot for Kids' Fishing Day," Spurgeon said. "They provide hot dogs and free soda and all the background work that no one ever sees, so we wanted to recognize him for that."

Charlee Felton, 4, left, of Cassville, and Madilyn Littrell, 8, of Bentonville, Ark., enjoyed a drink and some chitchat on a blanket by the river Saturday during Kids' Fishing Day event at Roaring River State Park. The two had just met and became fast friends, their mothers said. Julia Kilmer
Dad Jason Thorne, of Fayetteville, Ark., gives son, Sloan Thorne, 17 months, a bite from a snow cone during Kids' Fishing Day Saturday at Roaring River State Park. Julia Kilmer
While thousands fished during Kids' Fishing Day Saturday at Roaring River State Park, several children found contentment climbing on this large tree, while parents tried to coax them down. Julia Kilmer
Siblings Lakoda Chapman, 8, and Rebecca Chapman, 7, of Republic, get a fun, cool treat from snow cone vendor Mark Stephenson, of Joplin, during Kids' Fishing Day Saturday at Roaring River State Park. Julia Kilmer
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