By Beth Christian Broschart
ELKINS - It's been a long, cold winter and kids are more than ready for warmer weather and moving on to outdoor activities. The upcoming Hooked On Fishing Not On Drugs Expo, slated for March 29 and 30 at Elkins High School, should provide just the respite needed to cure cabin fever.
Robin Miller, the coordinator for the event, said there are tons of activities in store for participants over the two-day event.
"The purpose of HOFNOD is to deter drug use by encouraging kids to participate in fun outdoor activities like fishing," Miller said. "This year, we have added some new things."
Miller said attendees at HOFNOD will encounter three learning sessions - one on the dangers of meth labs, one on smoking and one on bath salts.
"At check-in, cards will be issued to the kids," Miller said. "When they attend the sessions, their cards will be stamped, and these will give students a chance at some larger prizes, including a sleeping bag or an iPad."
Miller said many favorites will be returning to the 20th annual HOFNOD event, including the fishing identification station, the hog trough - where kids learn about using the correct bait - the fish pond, Officer Phil from the Elkins City Police Department and Jim Fregonara and his magic show.
"The Elkins Lions Club will be giving away cotton candy and units from the Randolph County EMS, Heath Net Helicopter and the Elkins Volunteer Fire Department will be on hand," Miller said. "The West Virginia State Police will have their BAT Mobile, and students can learn about the perils of drinking and driving with fatal vision goggles. French Creek Freddie and Willie Ketchem, the fish mascot, will be making an appearance. And we will have the Fish Simulator game also this year. "
HOFNOD will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on March 29 and noon to 5 p.m. on March 30.
"Everyone is invited to come to this free event to learn about the hazards of drugs and celebrate the great outdoors," Miller said. "Lots of local organizations set up many booths for games and activities."
On the first day of the event, the National Turkey Federation will sponsor a turkey calling contest at 1 p.m. Currently, a coloring contest is being conducted in the schools to coincide with festivities.
"Students can draw and color a picture and submit it to their teachers," Miller said. "The pictures will be featured during the event, and winners will be announced at the event Sunday. Winners will be awarded prizes for their entries."
Mark Doak, CEO of Davis Health System, said HOFNOD is a great event.
"It is always a great event and a great way to start a summer of family involvement," Doak said.
"Part of Davis Medical Center's mission is to support families in achieving better health," Tracy Fath, Davis Health System director of marketing and development said. "We have been a long-time supporter of Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs because this event promotes healthy activities for children and their parents. Many of the vendors provide valuable programs and assistance within our communities, while others share opportunities for healthy lifestyle choices like exercise and recreation. We appreciate the hard work of the committee and many volunteers."
The gold sponsor for the event is Davis Medical Center, the corporate sponsors are Art Medium and Laurel Mountain Construction, the organizational sponsors are the Mountain Chapter of the Izaak Walton League and Mike Ross Inc. and the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources.
To become a sponsor, donate or volunteer for Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs, contact Miller at 304-637-3532