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Kids get hooked on fishing at Pioneer Days fishing derby

The sounds of children playing and the occasional squeal of a child startled by a fish filled the air at the VFW hosted Arnie Armstrong Memorial Fishing Derby. 

On Aug. 5, approximately 150 kids arrived with their families to fish for trout in Spring Creek. Over 400 trout from a local hatchery were introduced into the Ronan park creek for the kids’ fishing enjoyment. Younger kids seven-years-old and under fished from large tanks that made fishing easier and more engaging for them. 

WWII veteran and local VFW member Ron Merwin said the VFW has been hosting the event for the last 8 years, but the event has been operating since the 1980s. 

“It’s a great event, the kids start coming young and start out in the tanks, but they work their way up to the creek,” Merwin said. “We have some kids that have been coming back for years.”

He said there’s a lot of liability when you have over 100 kids in one place swinging hooks around, but luckily this year everything went smoothly. 

This year the event was dedicated to Arnie Armstrong, a local WWII veteran and member of the VFW who had been highly involved with the fishing derby in past years. He passed away before the event happened this year and the members of the VFW voted to dedicate the event in his name. 

Merwin said a lot goes into making the event happen each year and the city has been a huge help. City workers prepare the park and transfer the fish and move the large water tanks to the park each year. “If we had to do it all ourselves I don’t know that we could do it,” Merwin said. “We’re just a bunch of old farts,” he said laughing.

Even if the kids don’t catch anything the VFW makes sure they don’t leave empty handed. Each kid was given a goodie bag filled with small toys and gifts. In addition, every kid that registered for the event had their name put into a drawing that was held at the end of the event. Twelve Shakespeare fishing poles and 15 hats from Pierce Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Ronan were awarded. Excited winners paraded their prizes around the park.

Peggy Shrives came to the event with her grandkids; it was her first time coming to the event.

“It’s really a wonderful event for the kids, there are so many things going on for them,” she said. “It really brings a smile to the kids’ faces.”


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