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Joyce Endee

Rotary Club Fishing Derby brightens an otherwise gray weekend

Tyler Carson of Franklin registered to compete in the seven- to 12-year-old age group for the Tilton-Northfield Rotary Club’s Fishing Derby last weekend, but ended up taking home the prestigious “I Caught Frank and Harry” award for the overall largest fish of the day. An added bonus for Rotary members who presented him with the trophy is that Carson is the great-grandson of one of the derby’s founders, Harry Laughy. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
May 18, 2011
TILTON — It's been said a little rain never hurt anyone, and that was the case this past Sunday, when the Tilton-Northfield Rotary Club held their annual Fishing Derby, a free event for children, which, over 34 years, has become a tradition for many families in Tilton, Northfield and Sanbornton.

"The derby was started by Rotarians Frank Tibbetts and Harry Laughy in 1977, and it was neat to see that new Rotarians today still felt the spirit of those two men," said Rotarian Pat Clark.

That spirit included members pitching in for hours of work to not just organize the event, but to see that children learn to enjoy an outdoor recreational pastime so loved by its two founders. Raffle tickets were sold to help offset expenses for the day, and Clark, Barbara Blinn and Med Sattler manned the lunch wagon. Other Rotarians ordered trophies, gathered donations from local businesses and purchased fish to ensure the Tilton School pond off School Street was well-stocked for the day.

"The club orders over $1,200 of brook and rainbow trout from Hy-On-A-Hill Trout Farm in Plainfield, and New Hampshire Fish and Game adds about 200 fish to the pond as well, at no charge to the club," reported Joe LaPlante, one of the many members who assisted in the derby.

This year, 94 children registered for the event, despite off and on rain throughout the day. Robert D'Abbraccio came in third place in the 12- to 15-year-old age group with a rainbow trout that measured 11.25 inches, and said he has been fishing in the derby all his life. A little rain didn't dampen his enthusiasm, and even he stayed after the derby had ended to take advantage of the pond's accessibility for the day. His friend, Chelsea Smith, turned 16, and was too old to participate this year, but she was at the pond to cheer on friends and younger family members.

"I've been coming to this since I was a little girl, and tried for years to win a trophy. I never did, but it was still a lot of fun. They caught some nice fish today," Smith said.

This year's winner of the "I Caught Frank and Harry Award" for the largest catch of the day was Tyler Carson, who reeled in a 12.5-inch brook trout. His win, both LaPlante and Clark agreed, helped the memory of the derby founders live on in a very special way.

"It was really neat this year to see Harry's great-grandson win the trophy. It even has a photo of Frank and Harry embedded in it, so it was really terrific to see (Tyler) get it. You could tell he was very pleased, and it was emotional for us, too," said Clark.

Other award winners were: Jason Mansur (12.25 inch brook trout), Danielle Walker (11.5-inch brook trout) and Timothy Welcome (11.25-inch brook trout) in the one- to six-year-old category. For the seven- to eleven-year- olds, Logan Calvo caught a 12.25-inch brook trout, while Sara Chambers and Josh Dumka each reeled in 12-inch brook trout to place second and third.

In the final category, for 12- to 15-year-olds, Charlie Taylor took first prize with a 12.25-inch brook trout, Jon Chambers was second with his 11.75- inch brook trout, and D'Abbraccio came in third with his 11.5-inch trout.

Rotary members said they were grateful for Murray Faye, who once again volunteered to measure all of the entries. They also wished to thank Tilton School for use of their pond; Absolute Septic in Sanbornton, who donated a portable toilet for the day; the Shalimar Resort and Pauli's Restaurant, who each contributed food items for the lunch wagon; and AutoServ of Tilton, which donated the use of a van for derby supplies.

"Despite the weather, which naturally played a huge factor in the turnout, we still had a great crowd. We now have the second generation of many families participating, and everyone really enjoyed themselves," said Clark.

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