NORWAY — It’s early Saturday afternoon and Ciara Rice is dropping her fishing line into Little Pennesseewassee Stream. Her mom thought the fishing festival was today, she says, but was a week off. It hardly matters—she and her father Randy are doing a little fishing anyhow. Almost as quickly as her line drops below the water’s surface, Ciara gets a bite. Randy helps her pull her catch up over the rail of the bridge. She and her father hold up the fish—Ciara is now even more excited about the upcoming festival.

Norway’s first fishing festival kicks off this Saturday at 8 a.m. at Butters Park, which is at the intersection of Main Street and Water Street. Event coordinators expect that it will not only be fun, but enlightening.

“It’s not a derby or a competition,” Debra Partridge, director of the Norway Recreational Department, says. “It’s educational.”

The event, originally held in Bethel, moved to Norway after the nearby town could no longer hold it.

The fishing festival is mainly geared toward families with children under the age of 16. During the morning, different organizations will be present to educate young fishers on everything to do with the sport. The Norway-Paris Fishing Association will be hosting tables where children can trace their catch, and learn how to clean and grill them on site.

The association was founded in 1970 by a group of sportsmen who joined together to benefit local hunting and fishing. Their mission statement is to promote and preserve natural resources, improve natural animal habitats, to promote and encourage safety in fishing and hunting.

According to Norway-Paris Fish & Game President Sylvia Bosse, although the association has not done an event like the fishing festival before, they are very involved with children in the area.

“We sponsor an ice fishing derby the last full weekend in February every year, with the proceeds going towards sending several local kids to the University of Maine, 4-H Camp at Bryant Pond,” she says.

The association provides education for young adults, offering archery, trap, and rifle shooting instruction and several safety courses.

Bosse says that during the fishing festival, 10 volunteer instructors will be present, as needed, to help measure, weigh and trace the fish that children catch. Volunteers will also hand out informational papers on fisheries across the state.

Among the participants will be Norway Parks and Recreation, which will provide fishing poles and tackle; Mollyockett Trout Unlimited with fly tying and fly casting; CEBE will paint fish on faces; Western Foothills Land Trust will leaded guided walks to Penn Stream at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.; Norway Firemen’s Relief Association will have popcorn, Sparky the fire dog and a rescue boat on hand, and Roberts Farm will display a worm farm.

Food on site will include organic apple juice and a non-sugary snack (Fare Share); coffee and bake sale table (Destination Paris) and the bike blender (Healthy Oxford Hills). Restrooms will be available at Cafe Nomad, CEBE, Ari’s and Fare Share. Indeed, the festival is a town-wide effort with donors that include Kittery Trading Post (tackle); Schiavi Home Builders (moving DASH boat, fishing poles); DIFW (items for tables, fish cards, etc.) and The Lake Store (worms).

Water Street will be closed to traffic during the event so that attendees can get in and out of the fishing area safely and easily.

Ann Wood contributed to this report.

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