- 1400 New Kids – FIND the OUTDOORS for the First Time
- Parents of Kids – DISCOVER FISH and FUN of New York OUTDOORS
- Kudo’s to TV Station Crew and Outdoor Sportsman Volunteers
This was the Erie County Federation’s 1st participation of the WNED-TV Kids Fest. I’ve attended this event with my grandson last year, so I had an idea of how the event worked and what to expect as an attendee.
The press release was sent out and we prepared to add another community event to our calendar. Unfortunately, we had no idea what to expect as a vendor.
Our platform consisted of standard Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (ECFSC) banners and signage, Teach-Me-To-Fish posters supplied by Dave Barus, printed handouts for the Federation and an awesome supply of NYS fishing maps, fishing regulations and beginning fishing guides.
The crew consisted of President Jeff Jondle (event co-chair), Joe McAdams (event co-chair), Tom Fischer, George Rockey, Gary Melnyk, Hope Melnyk, and DEC biologist representative, Mike Todd.
Thanks to the assistance of the WNED studio crew members – we had our banner high on the wall. We went right to work setting up shop. This seasoned crew had everything ready to go in record time.
Our location in the TV studio – adjacent to the “Curious George and Friends” photo op and the “See Yourself on TV” green screen camera – gave us opportunity to present the Federation and all our programs to the interested parents.
Not knowing how many kids to expect and not having a large supply of prizes, we wanted to use a prize wheel to award drawing prizes. We brought 20 fishing poles, 100 mini-tackle boxes and over 200 Cabela’s braided wrist bands in hunter orange.
We couldn’t get a prize wheel, so we used a Plinko board with a 1-in-4 chance to win a top prize (fishing pole). Everyone else received a wrist band or mini tackle box. We expected our cache of over 300 prizes to easily last the day.
To say that we were WAY OFF is an understatement! Saturday’s pre-registered attendance was a little over 500, but an additional 400 kids purchased tickets at the door bringing the attendance to over 900 kids. This was amazing!
There was genuine interest in the Teach-Me-To-Fish program with many parents eager to attend this year’s events. I could not believe how many parents had never heard of ECFSC and Teach-Me-To-Fish. We had more face time with parents than any other Federation event!
DEC representative Mike Todd brought the popular fish identification display and a new event – the “fish pool”.
The fish pool consisted of numerous laminated color prints of various regional fish with a Velcro nose. Fishing poles equipped with a Velcro lined plug were used to make the catch. The water consisted of a blue tarp and nautical rope rigging to prevent those fishing from “falling in”.
The idea was to have the kids hook their fish, then take it to the identification chart behind the pool. This reinforced the fun of fishing with educational interaction. The fish pool was a huge success. Parents were taking pictures of their kids landing everything from Perch to Lake Trout! At times, the line to fish in the DEC Fish Pool stretched across the room.
After the first day, we exhausted our supply of prizes. We eliminated the mini-Plinko game and expanded the fish pond to account for the extra space. Sunday’s attendees would have been disappointed if it wasn’t for George Rockey. George came to the rescue with 200 stuffed emoji’s and 30 Frisbees to give away.
Sunday’s event was smaller and shorter in time with a schedule of 12-4. There were 300 pre-registered and another 180 walk-ins that brought the total kids to almost 500. The crowd was enthusiastic and parents snapped up anything that had information about Federation programs.
Hope and Gary Melnyk kept an eye on the prizes and managed to stretch them out until 2PM. Even without prizes, the kids still loved the fishing pond.
During this one event, we were able to reach more kids and engage more parents than the last 3 years of the “Teach-Me-To-Fish” program. More importantly, was that the majority of kids that attended this event were under the age of 6.
Our literature, fishing guides and maps weren’t taken by browsers strolling by, but were methodically acquired by young parents that were engaged by our Federation volunteers.
As a Director, former President, and longtime member of the Federation, I couldn’t be more proud of our all-volunteer team. They took this opportunity to educate and enlighten. To engage and provoke interest.
A special note of thanks for Mike Todd. This passionate New York State DEC biologist and educator does not get paid to support our events. He re-arranges his work schedule to cover the Federation sponsored events.
His fish pond was the hit of the show and had all of WNED-TV talking about what a great activity it was.
I can’t wait until next year…
About the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen (ECFS): The Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Inc. is an all-volunteer, charitable, non-profit organization that is dedicated to the promotion of fish and wildlife conservation, education of outdoor participants and related outdoor recreation. This promotion is accomplished in several ways. We conduct or sponsor a variety of educational opportunities for young and old. Including, but not limited to: • Sponsoring youths to conservation education camps.• Scholarships for conservation related education.• Instructor Workshops • Sponsoring Outdoors Woman program candidates. We also sponsor many community service programs that include: • Hunters Helping the Hungry • Family Fishing Clinics • National Hunting & Fishing Day hands-on event for youth. ECFS programs Grow with the Community: We are actively involved with the community – acting as liaisons to state and local government agencies that affect New York State conservation laws and activities; attempting to improve the hunting and angling conditions for the sportsman – promoting the multiple use of our lands, forests and waters for recreational purposes for all the people. We sponsor legislation, participate in fish stocking in Lake Erie and tributaries, inland lakes and streams of Erie County. We assist the Conservation Department in pheasant stocking – and we are involved in the 4H pheasant stocking program. Visit us and keep track of our outdoor educational event programming throughout the entire year: www.eriectyfsc.org/