CEDAR BLUFF STATE PARK — Sunny skies Saturday morning promised another hot day, but that didn’t stop families from flocking here for this year’s OK Kids event.
Outdoor Kansas Kids is a statewide program to create and promote outdoor opportunities for youth.
More than 40 sites, many of them state parks, organize a day and the activities throughout the year to participate.
“It’s just to get the kids out here. We want to get them into fishing and the outdoors instead of sitting at home,” said park manager Steve Seibel.
“Hopefully we’ll recruit some of these kids that will want to fish more and maybe pick up hunting.”
At Cedar Bluff, the free day included a fishing derby, shotgun safety and shooting instruction, trap shooting, geocaching, minnow catching, model boat making, a hunting simulator and a hunt for deer antlers.
More than 140 children up to age 15 signed up for the day. Adding in the adults, around 250 people were fed a free hot dog lunch. Participants came from Hays, Ellis, WaKeeney, Quinter, Colby and even Garden City.
The morning started off with the fishing derby at Pa’s Pond, a man-made fishing hole for youth and the disabled near the park’s headquarters.
Barbara Durham and two of her grandchildren, Morgan, 11, and Grayden, 3, all of Colby, were first-time visitors to the event. All of her grandchildren have fished “since they were babies,” she said. “They’re having a blast.”
Morgan had caught one fish by mid-morning.
“It was a little bass or bluegill,” she said. “I wanted to try to catch catfish.”
Jacob Pammenter, 9, Garden City, proudly carried a catfish he caught to the weigh station.
“This is second fish he’s caught,” his father, Taff, said.
“The first one we caught at Scott Lake and it was really small,” Jacob said.
His catfish weighed in at 1.23 pounds. All the fish caught were released back into the pond.
Each child received an OK Kids bag that contained T-shirts from Joe Bob Outfitters in Hays and Cedar Bluff State Park, coloring books, sunscreen and a solar bracelet that changes color in the sun.
Sponsors donated prizes for the event including scooters, radio controlled cars, Go Pro cameras, fishing poles and drones.