BRISTOL – Forestville American Legion Post 209 is hoping to provide another fun fishing experience for local youth this year and has scheduled several fundraisers for people to help them out with stocking trout.
The tentative date for this fourth-annual Youth Fishing Derby is scheduled for May 20 at Rockwell Park fishing pond and is open to all youth fishermen 18 or under. Registration this event will start at 6:30 a.m. that day and the event itself will be from 8 to 11 a.m., with prizes awarded for the first boy and the first girl to catch a fish, the fist boy and girl to limit out (catch two fish). Prizes will also be awarded for those who catch a rainbow trout and for the biggest fish caught that day. Prizes will include trophies and fishing poles. Breakfast can be purchased at the Hard Rock Food Truck, which will be parked at Rockwell for the derby.
Brian Avery, commander of the post which was formed in 2014 and meets out of Asbury United Methodist Church at 90 Church Ave., said that last year the event drew 165 children and also their parents. Chuck Woodin, post founder, said that the derby has grown significantly since it drew 65 kids the first year it was held.”
“People had a great time,” said Avery. “My six year old son has participated each year since its inception and last year was the first time he won a prize – the first boy to limit out. This a unique event because it doesn’t cut off at 13 like a lot of other fishing derbies. This way, brothers and sisters can fish together. It gets kids outside, away from their computers and iPhones and helps them to make memories that they will be talking about 20 years from now.”
“Children and the youth are one of the four pillars of the American Legion,” Woodin added.
Avery said that he grew up on the West End of Bristol and that there used to be a fishing derby there when he was a child. Eventually, it was disbanded and a derby was held only at Paige Park. Avery said that he wanted to provide local youth with the same experience and reached out to then Mayor Ken Cockayne, who said it was a “great idea.”
“It has been painstaking to engineer each year, but the results are worth it,” said Avery. “We have members of the post volunteer to help us set up and they stay overnight in a trailer to make sure that the fish aren’t poached after they are stocked. The day after the derby, anyone can fish there, but the night before and the morning of the derby, those fish belong to the kids. We get a lot of help from the Police Department and the Park Board in making this possible.”
As the day of the derby draws closer, signs and banners will be put up throughout town. However, until then, the Legion is concentrating on social media promotion and fundraiser events to make sure they have enough trout to stock the pond. A Go Fund Me page link can be found at “gofundme.com/american-legion-post-209” the following fundraiser events have been scheduled at McDonalds, Stop & Shop and Walmart.
Fundraisers at Mc
. March 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the McDonalds on Farmington Avenue in Bristol
. April 7 from 8 to 4 p.m. at the Stop & Shop on Pine Street in Forestville
. April 18 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the McDonalds on Farmington Avenue in Bristol
. May 19 from 8 to 4 p.m. at the Stop & Shop on Farmington Avenue in Bristol
. May 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the WalMart on Farmington Avenue in Bristol
. June 2 from 8 to 4 p.m. at the Stop & Shop on Pine Street in Forestville
. June 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the WalMart on Farmington Avenue in Bristol
. June 23 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Stop & Shop on Farmington Avenue in Bristol
McDonalds will be donating 15 percent of all proceeds from food purchased during the fundraiser days and times to benefit the Legion. The Legion will have booths set up at the Stop & Shop and WalMart events.
Woodin noted that American Legion Post 209 was founded to provide veterans with the option of going to a post that did not have a bar, in case they were combating alcoholism. He said that other community events that the post sponsors throughout the year include a Santa’s Cottage around Christmas, where the post raises money to purchase toys for kids to pick out before taking a picture with Santa. The post and its auxiliary also help to send one high school boy and one high school girl respectively to Boys State and Girls State, where they can learn about how politics and government function.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.