Catfish Roundup, J.A.K.E.S at Foster Park Lake

By Derik Vanderford dvanderford@civitasmedia.com

May 15, 2014

UNION — Beginning today and continuing on Saturday, the Union County Parks and Recreation, City of Union Public Safety, the U.S. Forest Service, the Piedmont Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and South Carolina DNR will again join forces to host two of Union County’s biggest events of the year.

Three trailer loads of catfish were added to the lake at Foster Park in preparation for the annual J.A.K.E.S. (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) Public Safety/Kids Fun Day and the Wheelin’ Sportsmen Catfish Roundup for Kids.

Wheelin’ Sportsmen Catfish Roundup for Kids

The Wheelin’ Sportsmen event will begin this morning (Thursday, May 15) and last until noon. This marks the sixth year for this event in Union, and it is sponsored by the Piedmont Chapter of the NWTF and the Sumter National Forest. The event is open to children with disabilities, ages 18 and under.

The event will include participation from Union County and Chester County students, as well as students from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind. Fishing equipment will be available and bait will be provided.

Schools will provide lunch for their students, and bottled water will be provided by the U.S. Forest Service.

“As an adult, it does your heart good to see these kids get to catch a fish,” said Union County Parks and Recreation Director Becky Cobb as she described the looks of joy on the faces of the young people when they catch their fish.

The J.A.K.E.S. Public Safety/Kids Fun Day

This annual event has continued to grow, becoming one of the county’s biggest events of the year.

“This event has become such a big event for kids,” said Cobb, who mentioned she has received several calls from parents who want to schedule their children’s activities around the increasingly popular fun day at Foster Park.

The event will be held from 9 a.m.-noon this Saturday, May 17, at Foster Park. Pre-registration will be held from 8-8:45 a.m. Registration forms are available at the Union County Recreation Department.

Cobb said this year’s event will offer children more opportunities for prizes with DNR giving away rod and reel combos and the Elks Club giving away prizes, in addition to numerous prizes to be given away by the Union County Recreation Department.

When children register, they will receive a ticket for a free lunch as well as tickets for prize drawings to be held throughout the day. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has tagged 15 of the fish in the lake, and the lucky children who catch them will receive extra special prizes.

All parties involved in hosting the event say there is one goal — to introduce kids to the outdoors.

“We look for this to be a great event for the kids,” Cobb said. “It gives them a chance to do something outdoors, and it teaches them about a lot more than just fishing.”

Cobb pointed out that children will learn about gun safety through the BB gun station. They will also learn about the outdoors in the camouflage station, in which children will participate in a hide-and-seek camo hunt. The event will also feature a smoke house, a rock wall, an archery station, and the DNR “Take One, Make One” shooting trailer.

This year’s event will also include a recycling trailer to educate children about recycling, and the Union Public Safety Department will provide fire trucks and other equipment for display.

Children and parents are asked to bring rods, reels and bait. Some bait will be provided by Mostly Minnows, Inc., but it will be on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8:30 a.m.

To volunteer or receive more information about the J.A.K.E.S. Public Safety/Kids Fun Day, call Union County Parks and Recreation at (864) 429-1670.

Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at dvanderford@civitasmedia.com.