Tygart Lake State Park will again be hosting its fifth annual “Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs” derby for children of all ages under 18–from about 2 to 17. The idea is to let kids know that there are tons of fun productive activities in life to enjoy.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 11 in Grafton at the Tygart Lake Marina, children can enjoy a fun time of fishing with their families and then go on to the Tygart Lake Nature Center lawn for the awards ceremony and after-party, which will be packed with tons of activities and educational experiences.
“Not only is the event free, but it’s held on the same day as the West Virginia Free Fishing Day, so no fishing license is required,” reports event organizer Nichole Streets, who is the park’s Naturalist and Activities Director.
“Anyone in the state can fish for free,” Streets stated. “So at the derby, parents can fish for free with their children. That way it can include the entire family.”
Registration begins at 9 a.m., with the actual fishing component of the day running from 10 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. At noon, the awards ceremony and the after-party kicks off and runs until 3 p.m.
With a blast of a horn, the child participants will cast their lines into the water to start fishing to win the coveted awards for the largest fish caught for their particular age groups, the largest fish caught overall and the smallest fish caught overall.
Volunteers from the Save the Tygart Watershed will be on hand to give fishing tips and lend assistance. “They’ll be more than willing to help anyone who needs it,” Streets stated.
The same group will provide free hot dogs and beverages for the children, and adults can purchase their refreshments.
The after-party events are a main attraction for the children, Streets noted.
“They will learn about the volunteer opportunities of the different organizations they can join,” she stated. “And these groups let kids know what is out there for them.”
A representative from the Taylor County Extension Service will be on hand. “She will talk to them about 4-H programs they can be a part of,” Streets said.
Phil Poling will bring in the “pups” for K-9 demonstrations to show the children how the dogs can track. “He hides different illegal substances and the dogs locate them. The kids certainly love that,” she stated.
The children can enjoy two different types of interactive simulators: a DNR Sharp Shooter Simulator and the ABCA Drunk Driving Simulator.
Children can participate in real-life archery action at the Kingwood Church Fellowship’s Centershot, where they can shoot at targets.
Some of the after-party offerings are just about fun–face painting by Miss Tea Cup, games, fishing pole giveaways, other prizes and more, Streets added.
“We want to provide an opportunity for the kids in this community to spend a good day out with their family, fishing AND doing something for their community,” she stated.
Streets said the participants will also help out while they’re enjoying their day by cleaning up any trash they might find while they’re involved in the fun activities.
“If they see something, they can pick it up,” Streets remarked.
Streets stated that the derby is totally dependent on donations – mostly from local businesses. The two main financial sponsors this year are Leer Mining Complex and Alfred Construction.
“But we have many other sponsors who donate their time and efforts,” Streets explained.
Regarding the past success of the derby, Streets reports, “Last year we had 125 kids and about 300 people total, so that’s a good turnout.”
Streets said that while people are there for the derby they can check out all the other wonderful family fun that the state park offers.
Just 19.3 miles from North Central West Virginia Airport, Tygart Lake State Park offers a cozy, quiet getaway for couples and families. Situated in West Virginia’s rolling hills, it is adjacent to the 10-mile long, 1,750-acre Tygart Lake.
The park has a 20-room rustic lodge that is perched on a promontory overlooking the lake. The rooms have a seating area and private bathrooms that come with either a shower or a tub. All of the rooms offer air conditioning, refrigerator, microwave, iron, ironing board and modern single serve coffee maker. And the lodge has barbecue facilities and free parking.
The park’s 11 vacation cabins are also popular accommodations. There is a selection of two-person, four-person and six-person cottages. Modern in design, the wood-paneled cabins feature fireplaces, electric and propane heat, modern kitchens and baths.
The cottages are completely furnished for housekeeping with cooking utensils, dishes, linens, towels and blankets. Cabin 11 is the only cabin with air conditioning.
For those who prefer a more rustic experience, the park has both nonelectric and electric campsites for tents and campers.
And the premier eating spot at the lodge is Apple Annie’s, the restaurant and food service concessionaire at the park. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Diners can enjoy fine food while taking in the view of the lake.
“Apple Annie’s is very well known for its desserts,” Streets said. “They have a great Red Velvet cake.”
Guests who like to kayak, canoe or fish will be able to enjoy the mountain-stream-fed waters of the lake.
“Kayaks are available for rent onsite, but not canoes,” Streets reports.
Streets said she and the park team are very pleased with the brand new Nature Center that is open six days a week.: “We’ll offer free nature activities that are geared toward kids from 3 to 15 years old, such as hiking and nature-related crafts.”
The park has a beach area that is open to the public five days a week but closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
For more information about the fishing derby and about Tygart Lake State Park, call (304) 265-6148 or visit tygartlake.com.