Alice Rainewinter, an Olathe 5-year-old, seemed an unlikely award-winning angler.
But she caught the longest fish at Olathe’s 36th annual Kids’ Fishing Derby the morning of June 17 at Cedar Lake. She hauled in the 23-inch catfish all by herself.
Her dad, Mark Plaisted, said all he did was put the bait on the hook “for safety purposes.” This was her second derby in two months, and her second win.
“She’s the next Bass Pro-woman,” Plaisted said proudly, recounting the moment she reeled in the winning fish.
“We were like: what is that? It’s a catfish!”
Joe Pruett, president of Kid’s Annual Fishing Derby Inc., said the group has a simple mission.
“Our sole goal is to promote the sport of fishing; it’s the only thing we do.”
Each year the foundation spends about $5,500 to put on the derby, which is free to every child 15 and under, and to seniors over 60. Several trophies were up for grabs: in the categories of ages 3 to 8, ages 9 to 15, and one senior trophy.
Pruett said neither experience nor equipment was necessary. A registrant could show up empty-handed and leave with an event T-shirt, new rod, tackle box, and sometimes even a trophy.
Even lunch was provided. A Hy-Vee in Olathe donated enough hotdogs, bags of chips, and bottles of water to feed 1,250 people.
Participants caught fish — usually catfish, crappy, or bass — then flagged down volunteers, who recorded the length of the fish before releasing them into the lake.
Because of weekend storms, attendance was as light as it’s been in at least 18 years, according to Sherry Ramzy, longtime derby board member. Typically it pulls in close to 800 people, but this year only 320 registered.
Ramzy said the non-profit received more donated prizes than there were registrants, so everyone left with a prize of some kind. Sponsors — which included sporting goods stores, karate schools, philanthropic groups and restaurants — donated almost $9,000 in goods and services.
And the Olathe Sheriff’s Department had a tent at the event with new rods for those who need them.
Fortunately, the fish in Cedar Lake are suburbanites and not at all bothered by the honking horns of the Touch-a-Truck event that took place a few yards away. The honking hadn’t stopped since the trucks rolled in, parade style, earlier in the morning.
Zach Carnahan, an Olathe Parks and Recreation program specialist, says that the city decided to hold Touch-a-Truck — which is just what it sounds like — next to the fishing derby about five years ago.
Interest in the event, which started at Frontier Park about 10 years ago, had been flagging, he says. “The main idea was we were trying to revive Touch-a-truck and we already have a built in audience here, so let’s just see if we can get some more interest in it.”
This year, he estimated that the truck folks far outnumbered the fishing folks. So, mission accomplished — at least in the aftermath of a storm.
About 18 trucks were included in the event, mostly city vehicles like a salt spreader from public works, and an armored vehicle from the police department. Some, however, were privately owned, such as the First Student school bus, and Shatto dairy farm delivery truck giving away samples of local milk and ice cream.
The Sharan family of Olathe noticed the event on a Facebook posting and had no idea what to expect.
AJ Sharan, father of 2-year-old Ahaan, said it was a fun day for the family.
“We were just hoping for a semi, but there are so many different kinds.” Ahaan was especially interested in the school bus.
One of the many horn-honkers was Jace Hoge a 2 1/2 -year-old from Lenexa.
His parents, Becca and Lucas Hoge, encouraged him to let someone else have a turn behind the wheel of the big city dump truck. The fire truck and giant vacuum truck had held Jace’s attention before he found the horn.
“He loves trucks. It’s nice and shady. A good family outing,” Becca Hoge said.
There was no time to stick around for hotdogs, however. The events tuckered out the family, so it was back to the Hoge house for naps for everyone.