A couple years ago, I heard about this event in our county called the Botetourt County Annual Fishing Carnival. The joint event is mainly coordinated by the Botetourt County Parks, Recreation and Tourism and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. In a nutshell, the event consists of an afternoon of free fishing related games and contests. Each kid gets tons of free stuff and free food as well. Let’s focus on one of those words… Free. No hidden costs. No hidden agendas or gimmicks. Just getting kids outside and enjoying what we all love! I am very serious about setting the utmost example for my children. As the head of the house, I hold myself responsible for raising them right. We, as men, need to show our sons how to act as men. Show them, not tell them. We need to teach our sons how to treat women and focus on useful lessons like how to be sustainable and provide for their family. We need to show our daughters how a woman should be treated…but also how to clean a fish and deer. I believe in investing in our youth, so this year I approached the folks putting on the event in hopes that I could be a part of something I’m so passionate about.
I was pumped when they said they’d love to have DDF participate in the 15th annual event. This thing’s kinda a big deal for such a small town on the James. Each year there are between 300-500 kids. After letting what I had just committed to set in, I realized it would be in the busiest time of my schooling thus far. Making time to plan was going to be a challenge. I had some ideas that I thought would be a hit with the kids. Of course I wanted a little table set up with some vises for the kids to learn how to tie flies. That was a given. The other was a little more complicated. I wanted to build a casting pool. I figured a little money spent on kids in the community is money well spent! And I knew we’d use it for other events in the future.
Matt helped me with the logistics of the design and Emma Jo directed me and David on how to construct it. Here are some phone pics of the construction and some good ol American food from a good wife.
With all the school and work that was occupying my time, I found myself frantically preparing for the event the night before. I had to pack up my fly tying gear, the fly tying gear for the kids, stickers and shirts for raffle winners, the casting pond assembly, rods and reels, and a bunch of other silly stuff that we just have to have. I ended up going to bed past midnight, which was in line with the normal timeframe with summer classes. Only I had to be up at 5:00 to get down the road and set up, so that was fun…
I got there and started setting things up with about half my normal daily coffee intake already under my belt. The pond had to be set up first so the Fire & Rescue could fill it up with water. I was a little nervous bout the tarp material since we didn’t test it out first. I was glad I went bold with 6-mil construction film. It held up like a champ!
Lisa got there right when the event started with Emma Jo and Wyatt in tow. She kept them occupied and helped with Matt’s son Cooper while we worked with the kids. The entire time! Every time I looked over at her, she was busy.
Wyatt and Cooper kept it real during their stay. These dudes were the best dressed there.
The kids really loved tying woolly buggers. Matt was a huge help, allowing me to focus on just casting instruction. In the sun. The hot, hot sun.
This little girl was a natural.
This was right before Matt took on a swarm of kids.
The casting went just as good as the tying. The kids were very receptive and so enthusiastic. Better than most adults!
And this beautiful little girl is my niece Addison. With a roll cast like that, she’s obviously family.
There were so many cool activities going on for all the kids. Lisa took our kids, accompanied by my supportive family that showed up, around to all the different stuff so they’d get to experience it all. But in the end, Emma Jo came back to her water. I’m so glad she loves the water as much as she does. Because of this, we never freak out when she gets dirty or whatever. Memories last a lifetime; stains and clothes are temporary and expendable. So what does a girl do when she sees her father teaching kids how to cast into a casting pool? She jumps in. That’s what she does. And her father’s reaction is a smile. I know this kinda stuff won’t last forever and they’ll grow way too fast.
What I didn’t think about was the line of ants that would follow the leader.
I’m not gonna lie…it got crazy for a good bit.
Even though this was not what I planned, the kids were having a blast. More and more kept piling in. And all I could do was smile (and pray they didn’t break my pool….or themselves). David relieved Matt in the afternoon and helped me with another event afterwards called Water Trail Fest. This first annual event was a pretty cool one, aimed at educating people about The Upper James River Water Trail and all activities having to do with it. All in all, it was an awesome first time participating in the Botetourt County Annual Fishing Carnival and DDF looks forward to doing it again next year. Tons of kids learned how to tie flies, cast a fly rod, and slip ‘n slide like pros. And tons of parents had wet cars courtesy of DDF. Oh, and Emma Jo was smoked and ended up taking a very long nap which is always a wonderful thing.
You don’t need to have children to be a part of something like this. There are plenty of kids out there who don’t have a father living or worth anything. Who knows…you could possibly save a kid from going down the wrong path. I promise you it will be rewarding to you as well.