If they were handing out awards for persistence at the 12th annual Wichita Eagle Kids Fishing Clinic on Saturday, Travis Popp would surely be the winner.
Unlike other children attending the fishing clinic at Chisholm Creek Park, 8-year-old Popp had to wait 35 minutes to bring in his catch.
Still, he said, “it was fun.”
Popp was attending the clinic for the third year in a row with his mom, Trasi, dad, Kevin, and little sister Kensie, 4.
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“I don’t think he (Travis) caught one last year,” Kevin Popp said.
Travis and Kensie were among the roughly 250 kids age 12 and under attending the clinic that ran in 30-minute blocks over six hours. The clinic was in conjunction with Great Plains Nature Center’s annual Walk With Wildlife, aimed at introducing kids and adults to wildlife, including insects, snakes, deer and birds of prey.
The clinic was a hit for 5-year-old Anaya Blackwell, who was fishing for the first time. “I like fishing now!” Anaya said.
Fishing clinic veteran Alaina Broomhead said she caught two fish. “I got the very first one, before anybody,” said Alaina, 6, who was in the first session Saturday morning. Then she clarified that maybe her first catch of the day wasn’t a fish. “Maybe it was a duck,” she said. “Maybe it was a dolphin.”
Alaina’s mom, Angie Broomhead, said this was her family’s third consecutive year attending the fishing clinic and Walk With Wildlife. They try to make a day of both events.
“They love it,” said Angie of Alaina and her siblings Jaedon, 9, and Raef, 6. “They just really like fishing, the attractions. It’s a good day.”
Lorrie Beck, director of the nature center, said Walk With Wildlife is the center’s biggest public event of the year, and the biggest fundraiser for the Friends of the Great Plains Nature Center, a non-profit that raises money to support the center’s educational outreach programs. Beck estimated there were between 175 and 200 volunteers helping at Saturday’s event, nearly 100 of them from Spirit AeroSystems, the event’s corporate sponsor.
Beck said 1,620 people attended Saturday, down from 2,066 last year.
She said moving the Wichita River Festival to the first half of June might be affecting attendance. While the center’s staff may discuss the event’s lower attendance this year, that doesn’t mean they will change the date of Walk With Wildlife, which has been held for 29 years in a row, always on the second Saturday in June.
“Next year will be our 30th year … the precedence has been set,” Beck said.