You never realize how much of your background is sewn into the lining of your clothes. ~Tom Wolfe
Another Mother’s Day is upon us and that means the Annual Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby! The 25th Annual Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby to be exact.
Participating in this event year-over-over, I take it for granted. But it does take a lot of work and effort to organize this tradition.
About this time last year, I was curious with respect to the origins of this family fun event. “How did it start?” and “Who started it?”
Since the Fishing Derby is now a quarter of a century old, and I’m a little bit older than that, it doesn’t take a mathematician to realize I was indeed around for the event’s inception. However, that was twenty-five years ago when I was entering my teenage years and doing my own thing. Kyle’s age now.
So what DO I know? I know my cousin Casey Olczak (Kyle’s godfather) won the very first Fishing Derby and my brother, (Kyle’s dad) attended the weekend fun when he was younger. Aside from that, I don’t know much about the origin of the Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby or who’s idea sparked a tradition that is going strong today, and by the grace of God will continue to do so.
For these details, I reached out to my good friend, Nina Enfinger, former Planinsek, a pretty solid source to satisfy my curiosity!
On a side note, with this blog I not only record life events and lessons learned for Kyle to read at a later date, but I also try to anticipate future questions and clarify details, so Kyle has a strong understanding of his past and his true family and friends. It occurred to me, he might want to know about the Fishing Derby, like myself.
From what I’ve been told, Dave Planinsek started this Mother’s Day tradition after attending a similar event. He saw how much fun those kids had and how everyone enjoyed themselves. Take that idea along with a place to have the Fishing Derby, the Planinsek Pavilion, then a seemingly simply tradition was created. The Louis Planinsek Fishing Derby, named after his dad.
The Fishing Derby always starts on the Friday night before Mother’s Day, pitching the tents, a big bonfire, plenty of food, and a bunch of kids running around playing tag, dodge ball or whatever else they dream up. It’s five dollars to purchase a ticket to the Fishing Derby and everyone brings a covered dish. There’s always homemade popcorn made on the fire and the raffling of donated items begins. The adults eat and drink and shoot the breeze until late into the night before retiring to their tents or for the less die hard, to their nice warm beds to only start again the next morning.
Saturday starts fresh at around 6:00 am or so, with the smell of breakfast cooking over the fire, typically scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes and french toast. Someone always brings fresh doughnuts and fruit, plus the assortment of homemade covered dishes from the night before and new ones appearing throughout the day.
From early in the morning till right before the bugle is blown, (yes they actually have a horn they blow!) all participants set up their chairs and fishing gear around the pond. The derby starts at 9:00 am after the acknowledgments are announced, thanking those who helped out or assisted in some way to make the day a success.
Now let’s not get silly, the area isn’t set up ready on command and the pond isn’t stocked by chance. The Planinsek’s really do a lot of leg work to get this event together. Family and friends help clean up the Pavilion beforehand by stacking firewood and stocking the pond. This usually takes place a few weeks before the Fishing Derby. Like I’ve said, this is a well planned and much anticipated activity every year.
Let’s not forget, all the leg work to gather the donated gifts and gift baskets for the raffles, purchasing the toys for the kid’s raffle, getting the breakfast food, the paper utensils, the signage, and I’m sure there is a lot more that are hidden behind the scenes that doesn’t even scratch the surface. Not to lessen any efforts from anyone, but I was informed that Cindy Planinsek is responsible for a majority of this pre-planning work. Thanks Cindy!
At this time, after acknowledgments, they also recognize friends and family who have moved on in life, giving a moment of silence. Then the rules are recited and the derby is ready to begin.
Forgive me for butchering anything up or missing any key parts, but it’s pretty straight forward and simple. All participants must be 16 years of age and younger. Since it’s a small pond, with an army of little ones who may not have the best casting skills, the adults can help the child cast. This makes sense since the adults are the ones who have to untangle lines, remove bobbers and hooks from tree branches and help bait the hooks. All participants need to reel in their catch, while usually the adult waits with a net to again assist. No adult can be caught with a fishing pole without being accompanied by a child!
The goal is to catch the largest rainbow trout. There are also additional prizes for the largest Palomino and other species. But the coveted trophy and the honor of having his or her name recorded in the books is strictly for the trout. Naturally, all the fish can be caught and kept for frying up or released to be caught again.
Over the years, I’ve heard stories upon stories of tales from Fishing Derby’s past. It’s so much fun to hear all the tall tales while sitting around a campfire.
One story, they do share right before the kids cast their first lines of the day, more to demonstrate safety and being aware of ones surroundings, is the face hook story. This story really makes you think before you cast your line!
As you might have guessed it involves a hook and a face. About forty some years ago Dave Planinsek hooked his Aunt Sally in the cheek or the nose or some facial feature with a fishing hook while he was casting his line. Ouch! Can you imagine having a fishing hook in the face? Can you imagine being the one who did it? I’ve caught my own fingers, but that’s pretty serious!
Now the activities vary from year-to-year, but the theme remains the same. In addition to fishing, which is the heart and soul of the day, Mick Planinsek usually gives hay rides and the kids always get a mean game of dodge ball going.
With twenty-five years worth of history, I can’t outline all the winners but here are the recent few. A few years ago Joshua Enfinger (Nina’s son) won with a twenty-four and half inch rainbow trout. The year after Lexie Planinsek (Mick’s daughter) won (not sure of the size). Our last year’s champion, Ryan Hiles won with a twenty-three inch rainbow trout. Each year it seems like new records are broken, but the fun always remains the same. Winners have gone from seven and eight years old to sixteen, the maximum age for the participants. There’s a huge age span, so it’s anyone’s trophy.
The Planinsek family is a great group of people, a truly sincere hardworking dedicated fun bunch. They are responsible for creating the memories that last eternity. Thanks so much! Happy fishing!