UNION — Two of Union County’s biggest annual events of the year proved successful again over the weekend.
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 joined forces to present 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 at Foster Park.
After postponement due to rain on Thursday, over 50 children with disabilities participated in the Wheelin’ Sportsmen round-up on Friday. Volunteers included the Union County High School fishing team — led by Mike Massey — as well as other volunteers from the U.S. Forest Service, the Piedmont Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), and various churches and organizations.
Steve Cobb — of both the U.S. Forest Service and the Piedmont Chapter of the NWTF — said each participant caught a fish, and all fish caught were released back into the water. Cobb said most participants caught 10-15 fish, and for some, this is the only time they will have an opportunity to fish this year.
“To me, this is the most successful event all year,” Cobb said. “I get more out of it than I put into it because these children have so much fun, and most all the volunteers I talked to feel the same way.”
The Piedmont Chapter of the NWTF paid for some bait, and some was donated by Mostly Minnows. Cobb said he wanted to express thanks to all who donated time and resources to help make the event successful. Volunteers were treated to pizza by the Piedmont Chapter of the NWTF after the event.
On Saturday, there were 350 children (ages 2-17) who were registered for the J.A.K.E.S. Public Safety/Kids Fun Day.
Cobb said the participants caught more fish than they normally do because the fish were biting well, and other activities were not as busy until later in the day, since the fish were biting often early on.
Cobb said many of the tagged fish were caught, landing prizes from DNR. The Elks Club also gave away 200 rods and reels, and DNR, with help from Academy Sports, also gave away numerous rods and reels.
Other activities included a reptile exhibit and presentation by Stuart Jones, a BB gun station teaching gun safety and shooting skills, a camouflage station in which children participated in a hide-and-seek camo hunt, a hands-on archery station, a rock wall, and the DNR “Take One, Make One” shooting trailer. The event also included a recycling trailer to educate children about recycling, and the Union Public Safety Department provided fire trucks and other equipment for display.
Volunteers came from the UCHS National Honor Society, the Union County Recreation Department, DNR, U.S. Forest Service and the City of Union. The City of Union also provided lunch for all children who registered.