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Great Meredith Fishing Derby turns 40 this year

Fish will be back on the board in Hesky Park Feb. 9-10 for the 40th anniversary of the Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby. (File Photo) (click for larger version)
January 23, 2019
MEREDITH The Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and there will be a lot of cash prizes, fishing fun, and even a coming surprise at this year's derby.

The derby will open on Saturday, Feb. 9, and run until to Sunday, Feb. 10. Derby Chair Dave Reid said the derby will largely remain the same as it has for the past few years. Anyone who buys a ticket is eligible to win up to $50,000 in cash prizes.

Reid said after 40 years, the event runs like clockwork, and they have a great team of volunteers. He said the Meredith Rotary's membership is large and diverse with people of many different backgrounds who work really well together.

"It's an important event in this community, so we like to get it right," Reid said. "Everybody knows what they've done for the past how many years, I'm proud to be a part of it."

The Derby began in 1979 as a new wintertime fundraiser. In the past, the Rotary had held other winter events, such as skiing. After a couple seasons of no snow the Rotary decided to think on another kind of event. Reid said the Rotary president at the time came up with the idea for the fishing derby. The Winnipesaukee Derby started in 1979, and was relegated to tagged rainbow trout in Lake Winnipesaukee. The derby became so popular it was opened to all other fresh water bodies in the state and renamed the Meredith derby. Now any angler can catch one of seven different kinds of fish to potentially win the grand prize. Reid said this is one of the biggest fishing derbies in the country.

Ticket sales are now open, and so far, they have sold around 500 tickets, a little more than this time last year. Reid said they expect sales to take off in the next few weeks, especially if the weather stays as it has. They are getting more online pre-sales and have more of a following on Facebook.

Those who catch the largest rainbow trout, black crappie, cusk, lake trout, pickerel, yellow perch, and white perch for Saturday and Sunday will be entered into the grand prize raffle worth $15,000 for first prize, $5,000 for the second prize, and $3,000 for third prize.

Anyone who buys a ticket, whether they fish or not, will be eligible for hourly drawings of $100 prizes with a grand prize drawing of $5,000 each day.

Reid said this year's derby will largely remain the same as it has been in years past.

"It's kind of one of those things after 40 years why shake the tree when its been woking just fine," Reid said.

Reid said there has been talk about doing something special for the 40th anniversary, though are keeping this special detail under wraps for the time being.

Reid said so far it looks like the ice is doing okay, though the Rotary is in regular communication with New Hampshire Fish and Game on the status of the ice leading up to the derby. Reid said they have a great relationship with Fish and Game: two of their judges are retired Fish and Game officers.

"They love it; they absolutely love coming here to do it," Reid said.

New Hampshire Fish and Game will hold a series of free kids fishing clinics on Saturday, which have been popular. Kids under 16 can learn how to bait, fish, drill a hole, use tip ups, and any other skill. The clinic will provide the equipment.

All proceeds from the derby go back into the community. From 1982 to 2018, the derby has raised $2,165,041 which has gone to various projects. The most money goes to scholarships for graduating seniors at Inter-Lakes High School and Moultonborough Academy. It also helps Rotary programs such as the Youth Exchange Program. Reid said this is an amazing program, his family experience it first hand when his daughter did a year abroad in Ecuador. Other community contributions have included municipal projects in Meredith, Center Harbor, and Moultonborough; local police and fire departments; environmental projects such as fish stocking and others; the senior Christmas dinner; and so many others.

For more information on the Great Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby and to order tickets, visit http://www.meredithrotary.com/ice-fishing-derby.html.

Garnet Hill
Martin Lord Osman
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