(T-G File Photo by John I. Carney) [Order this photo]
This is the third year for the event, according to Jennifer Swann of Shelbyville Parks and Recreation. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the parks department organize the event with the support of numerous community sponsors.
The event is for children ages 4-15, who must be accompanied by an adult. Some of the advance publicity for the event lists 5 as the minimum age, but that has been lowered to 4. Because June 11 is Free Fishing Day statewide, and June 11-17 is Free Fishing Week for children 15 and under, no fishing license is required to participate. However, participants will need to bring their own rod, bait and tackle.
Numerous prizes will be offered, normally enough for every participating child to receive something.
Each child is given a "golden ticket" upon registration. When a child catches his or her first fish, he or she can bring the golden ticket to the registration tent and exchange it for a prize. At the conclusion of the event, the golden tickets from those who haven't caught a fish are taken for a random drawing to distribute the remaining prizes.
TWRA stocks the river with catfish for the event, increasing the chances that a child will get the thrill of that first fish.
"The fishermen, a couple of days later, love it," said Swann.
Last year, the event registered 150 children, and Swann said including adults there were probably about 300 in attendance. Grandparents and parents brought children, and there was at least one wheelchair-using participant.
"It's open to everybody," said Swann.
The parks department has lifeguards on duty for the event, and Bedford County Emergency Management Agency has rescue personnel available as well.
Participating sponsors include Handy Dandy, The Bait Shop, Ron Hatmaker, Backwoods Hunting & Fishing Club, Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Big G Express, Custom Tackle, Get Fit Bedford, 4-H / University of Tennessee Extension, and the American Fisheries Association.
For more information, contact Swann at 684-9780.