Hooked on Fishing event is ready for return | News, Sports, Jobs

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ELKINS — After being canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19, the annual Hooked On Fishing Not On Drugs event will make its triumphant return to the Phil Gainer Community Center on Saturday.

“We are delighted to be able to bring him back this year,” Chris Lee, facilities manager at the Phil Gainer Community Center, told The Inter-Mountain. “HOFNOD is a great event and it has a huge impact on the community. This allows children to come in and learn about fishing, hunting, hiking, and most importantly, the anti-drug message.

This year’s event, which is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., received a boost from the Randolph County Commission last week when it received $5,000 from the commissioners to help with the festivities.

“I appreciate the effort and work you do for HOFNOD,” Commissioner Cris Siler told Chris Lee and Owen Peet, who were attending the meeting on behalf of the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission. “Anything we can do to help our kids get away from TV and games and get them outside like it was when we were kids, I totally agree. I’m really happy that we can help you with the funding application.

The driving force behind HOFNOD since 2019 has been the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission and the Randolph County Family Resource Network, who are co-hosts of the event. Exhibits featuring fish, birds of prey and snakes will be set up at the event, and many interactive activities are planned, such as rock climbing, archery and fetching. gemstones, to name a few.

Some of the organizations participating in the HOFNOD event include: United States Forest Service, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, Elkins Police Department, National Rifle Association , West Virginia Wildlife Center, Elkins Fire Department, Environmental Protection Division, West Virginia Fish and Wildlife, 4-H, Youth Health Services, West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center, Double Tap Gun Club and Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area.

“This year we are also opening our stage to local dance groups who will be performing during the event,” Peet, the youth program coordinator for the Elkins Parks and Recreation Commission, said. “We will also be offering a variety of door prizes donated by local businesses. And the NRA gave us a grant that will allow us to raffle off six lifetime hunting and fishing licenses this year.

Lee said that before the 2019 HOFNOD event, when the EPRC and FRN took over, the annual festivities were more like an exhibition and there were real talks about ending the event.

“Elkins Parks and Recreation learned of the possible closure of HOFNOD and we wanted to make sure this important event remained in the community,” said Lee. “So in order to do that, we thought it was important to refocus attention on what it was originally intended to be – talking about the anti-drug message and how outdoor recreation can be a great option to pursue other than those bad life choices.

Lee said bringing the event back to its original structure paid off in 2019 when nearly 1,500 people attended the celebration.

“We’ve changed the purpose of fundraising for individual groups, from selling stuff, to the idea that everyone who participates has a free education opportunity,” he said. “And we received great feedback, especially from the parents of the children who participated.”

Lee noted that the ERPC and FRN are working to make HOFNOD a non-profit organization in the future.

“We’re trying to recruit new members so we can put together a board and get that non-profit status so it’s easier to get grants,” he said. “I would like to work with local law enforcement and possibly have someone from the Sheriff’s Department or Elkins City Police on this board because they play such an important role in HOFNOD.”



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