UNION — The Union County Parks and Recreation, the City of Union, 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.
Last Wednesday, approximately 2,400 pounds of fish were added to the lake at Foster Park in preparation for the J.A.K.E.S. (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) Public Safety/Kids Fun Day and the Wheelin’ Sportsmen Catfish Roundup for Kids. The City of Union was responsible for the lake being stocked, and city Public Service Director Perry Harmon said the funding comes from the city’s Hospitality and Accommodations Tax.
Public fishing at Foster Park will be illegal until after both events have taken place.
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 Union County Parks and Recreation Director Becky 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 Saturday, May 18 at the park. Pre-registration will be held from 8-8:45 a.m. When children register, they will receive a ticket for a free lunch and a ticket for prize drawings to be held throughout the day.
All parties involved in hosting the event say there is one goal — to introduce kids to the outdoors.
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 prizes donated by Academy Sports and Outdoors as well as other organizations.
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.
Attractions will include fire trucks, police vehicles, a Smoke House, a rock wall and a DNR “Take One, Make One” fishing simulator. Other attractions will include a BB gun station, camouflage station and reptile exhibit (open at 9:15 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.) provided by the Piedmont Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF).
“This is probably the only time some of these kids will get to fish, shoot a BB gun, shoot a bow and arrow and be in the outdoors,” said Steve Cobb of both the U.S. Forest Service and the Piedmont Chapter of the NWTF.
This year’s event will also include a recycling trailer to educate children about recycling, and the Union County Animal Shelter will provide information and cards to have pets spayed or neutered.
Union County Parks and Recreation Program Director Jessica Gallman said adults and high school seniors are encouraged to volunteer for the event, as much supervision is required.
To volunteer for the J.A.K.E.S. Public Safety/Kids Fun Day, call Union County Parks and Recreation at (864) 429-1670.
Wheelin’ Sportsmen Catfish Roundup for Kids
The Wheelin’ Sportsmen event will be held from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, May 16 at Foster Park. This marks the fifth 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 special needs children ages 18 and under.
Steve Cobb said 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 Becky Cobb as she described the looks of joy on the faces of the young people when they catch their fish.
Steve Cobb said most of the students will require one-on-one coaching, and volunteers are needed.
For more information about the Wheelin’ Sportsmen event, call the U.S. Forest Service at (864) 427-9858. Those who would like to volunteer should also call the U.S. Forest Service or come to the event and ask for Steve.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.