Kid's fishing derby turns 20

ELIZABETHTOWN For more than a generation, families in Elizabethtown have celebrated Memorial Day by catching trout. The 20th annual Elizabethtown Children's Trout Fishing Derby will take place Monday, May 26. The event, sponsored by the town, is expected to draw about 100 young anglers. The derby will run from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Registration takes place immediately after the town's annual Memorial Day Ceremony. The event is free, though younger children should have adult supervision. Town Councilman Joseph Martin has organized the derby for all 20 years. He said he came up with the idea as an activity to encourage youth and their families to spend time together, along with supporting the Essex County Fish Hatchery. The idea of it is to bring people together and have a good time, and have something remember, said Martin. He said the town board, led by Betty Bryant, has been supportive of the idea, but finding funding was an issue. A local businessmen, John Nichag, stepped in to help. At the time, Nichag was the proprietor of the Cobble Hill Restaurant. When Martin mentioned his idea, Nichag immediate pulled a $100 bill out of the cash register and presented it as seed money. The derby has an annual Heather Nichag Memorial Award in honor of Nichag's daughter, an avid angler who passed away as a teenager. Plenty of community support is why the derby has become an E'town tradition. Members of the town board usually volunteer to help weigh fish. Businesses and groups like Stewart's Shop, Adirondack Outdoor Company, Grand Union, Elizabethtown Fish and Game Club, Big Papa's Tackle Shop, Elizabethtown Fire Department, Elizabethtown Kiwanis and Elizabethtown Chamber of Commerce provide volunteer hours and donations to make the event a success. In the first year, about 50 children entered the event. Nowadays, people who fished in the earlier derbies are bringing their children to compete. The event is geared toward students from the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School district, with prizes offered to students for biggest fish, most points and smallest fish. Age categories are 3-6, 7-10, and 11-15. Free hot dogs and soda are provided to all participants. The event also features a kindergarten coloring contest, where students from ELCS color a trout. The pictures are then displayed at the Windsor Park gazebo, where sign-ups, the weigh-in and awards ceremony take place. The winners of the coloring contest receive ice cream certificates from Stewart's Shop. The derby takes place at Deep Hollow, a spring-fed pond located next to the town golf course. Hundreds of two and three year old rainbow and brook trout are stocked into the pond just before the derby, and after the contest is done, the place is a popular, easily accessible fishing spot for community members. You go there after the derby is over, the people that fish that is unbelievable, said Martin. People fish it all summer.

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