By Joel Hall
Fort Gillem and the City of Forest Park will host their 11th Annual Youth Fishing Rodeo this Saturday, at Fort Gillem's Stephens Lake.
During the free event, children ages 13 and under will have the opportunity to competitively fish for catfish and bream and receive awards for catching the longest, the heaviest, and the most fish.
The rodeo will take place from 8:30 a.m., to 12 p.m., at Stephens Lake, located on the premises of Fort Gillem in Forest Park. Following the competition, Forest Park Mayor Corine Deyton and Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem Garrison Commander Col. Deborah B. Grays are expected to renew the city's mutual aid agreement with the Army for the 12th consecutive year.
Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson Media Relations Officer Peter Chadwick said the long-running Youth Fishing Rodeo started when former Forest Park Mayor Chuck Hall, an avid fisherman, and former Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem Garrison Commander Col. William J. Clingempeel decided to enhance the Army's partnership with the city by taking advantage of Fort Gillem's lakes.
"It's an opportunity for the children of the Forest Park area to get out and fish," Chadwick said. "It's a good morning event for the kids and their parents. When everybody comes out, you can't tell who's military or civilian, because everybody wears civilian clothes. If the kids get a little nibble, they get excited. I haven't seen anybody leave the fishing rodeo unhappy ... I've seen some people happier than others because they got more fish, but nobody leaves unhappy."
Chadwick said that this year, parents and children will be required to bring their own fishing equipment. Fort Gillem will provide snacks, refreshments and some bait for anglers, he said.
"There will be some bait there, but we recommend that they bring their own," Chadwick said. "The bait that is provided is just worms, but they can use artificial lures if they've got them. Nightcrawlers are good for catching catfish, as well as chicken livers."
Forest Park City Manager John Parker said he, city Parks and Recreation Director Elaine Corley, and Mayor Deyton, will attend the rodeo and be present for the signing of the mutual aid agreement. He said the city supports the event because it gives children and parents a chance to bond.
"A lot of times, parents are busy," Parker said. "They work and the only time they see their kids is in the evening. This is a time when the kids can interact with their parents. There is a little bit of competition, too, because kids are trying to catch the most fish or the biggest fish. All of that combined makes for a nice, family outing."
Chadwick said that parents attending the rodeo Saturday will need to present a driver's license and proof of insurance before being allowed on the base. Visitors should use the entrance near the corner of Anvil Block Road and Ga. Highway 42 (Moreland Avenue), he said.
For more information, call (404) 783-3004.