Minnow Races: One Way to Reach the Kids

Post a Comment » Written on May 12th, 2006     
Filed under: News
POPLAR, WI (May 12, 2006) – It was a church event even Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn would love.

After all, it’s not every day children get to fish for trout or have minnow races inside a gymnasium, but Mission Covenant Church gave them the opportunity to hook the big one – or race the small one – as part of the congregation’s first annual Fishing Expo. The accompanying photo shows one of the minnow races under way. For additional photos, please see Fishing Expo.

As many as 700 adults and 200 children participated in the four-hour event, says Chrissy Allen, the church’s staff secretary. The event featured many exhibitors and a lot of food – all free of charge. “You can bring your family and not spend a dime,” says Vince Hursh, who spearheaded the event.

Minnow races Allen says the fishing and races were the highlights of the evening. Two hundred brown trout were stocked in a 29-by-22 foot pond set up in the gymnasium.

“It was the most hysterical thing I’ve ever seen,” says Allen of the minnow races. Children would place their minnow in a lane, the starting gate would open and then it was a swim to the finish.

“It’s all about using the outdoors to connect with people,” says Hursh. “What we realized is how you connect with people is you meet them where they’re at, and you build relationships.”

The congregation has excelled at building relationships. Although the church sits in the middle of a field near this town with a population of only 400, more than 500 people attend on an average Sunday.

Seventeen exhibitors, ranging from the local trolling association to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, participated in the event. Boats were available for viewing. Seminars were given on knife sharpening, fish filleting, cooking, and using electronic fishing gear such as depth finders. Ministries related to fishing also were represented.

Much of the focus was on children, however, Hursh says. “We gave away tons of tackle, mostly to kids.” Instruction also was given to children on how to tie fishing knots and caring for natural habitats.

When people weren’t browsing or learning new techniques, they feasted on dinner. Of course, that included fish – smoked, pickled, boiled and broiled – potatoes, beans, corn, and other home cooking.

The church organized the event with an initial budget of only $300, Hursh says. People in and outside the church donated items and money to further help the outreach. “It’s been absolutely amazing – people have been so generous.” St. Anthony’s Catholic Church recently had a fish fry and donated whatever fish was left over and sold more at cost.

In addition to being generous with money and other donations, people also were generous with their time: planning for the four-hour event began last August, Hursh says.

This was the first fishing event for the church, which has held events nine times for hunters. Last November, the hunting event drew 1,300 people, despite a cold, snowy evening. Hursh says several people have attended the church as a result of the events.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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