One of the goals of the Optimist Club is "to aid and encourage the development of youth."
In an effort to meet the goal, the Payson club has joined forces with the Town of Payson Parks and Recreation Department, Arizona Game and Fish Department and Payson Community Christian School to host the inaugural Kids Fishing Festival. The event will be held 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 21 at Green Valley Park.
Children of all ages may participate free of charge.
Local anglers Dennis Pirch, a Payson Roundup outdoors columnist and co-owner of The Tackle Box in Tonto Basin, and Tracy Purtee will be on hand to lend fishing tips and administer skill tests.
Because the pair have been fishing Arizona lakes for about as long as any angler in the state, having the two available will be a special treat for young fishing enthusiasts.
Also participating will be several state Game and Fish instructors, who will host fishing classes and clinics.
All children who register for the clinics will receive a hat or visor and a picture of themselves with the fish they catch.
They also will receive special raffle tickets.
Among the prizes awarded will be a hosted fishing trip to Roosevelt Lake with Purtee, an electric trolling motor, fishing outfits and hand-carved duck decoys.
Optimist Club members continue to scour the Rim Country, collecting even more raffle prizes.
The raffle will be held between 2 and 3 p.m.
Anyone who wishes to donate can do so by calling Joan Young at (928) 472-2264.
Among the unique features of the event will be a "Bragging Board," on which names and catches will be posted throughout the festivities.
Also, KMCA (98.5 FM) will broadcast most of the day, meals and snacks will be served at reasonable prices and adult raffles will be held.
For more information, call Corey Kroll (928) 468-0320, Gary Parkinson (928) 474-2601or Young at the above number.
In addition to the Payson Optimist Club hosting the fishing festival, the local organization has helped fund many other youth projects around the Rim Country, including Little League teams, a Payson Center for Success Career Day, the Chance Amon Memorial Scholarship, past PHS graduation parties, Town of Payson Trunk or Treat, an annual magic show, Bowling for Kids Sake and the Non-violence Day Family Rally.
The Payson Club has been in existence since April 15, 1996.