By Sue LeBar
GRAHAMSVILLE With the rain ending just before the 2009 Youth Expo was to begin last Saturday morning at the Grahamsville Fairgrounds, parents and children gathered to register to take part in a day full of exciting hunting and fishing activities.
The 13th annual event offered several ongoing activities and demonstrations during the day, including BB gun shooting, red dot laser gun shooting, archery, trapping demonstrations, fly tying, fly casting, tattoos, face painting, a petting zoo, sock toss, child identification program, horseback riding, pine cone bird feeders, the smoke house, birdhouse building and catching trout in the trout pool.
One of the most popular events was the New York Masons’ ID Program which allowed parents to have their children photographed and fingerprinted for identification purposes.
“We are thrilled to be here today and that parents are taking the time to have their children’s identification cards done,” said Tim Dexheimer, Trustee of the Liberty Masonic Lodge 521. “It is something that only takes a few minutes to have done and it is priceless in case a child goes missing.”
Laban Cabrera of Montgomery was one of the parents who had her child photographed and fingerprinted. “We came to the Youth Expo today because my daughter became interested in the outdoors and then we saw this booth and we came right here,” Cabrera said. This is a very important thing for every parent to have done and I am glad that they were
Another popular event was the display done by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) under the direction of Officer Scott Steingart along with his K-9 partner, “Buck.” Steingart and his assistant, fellow DEC Officer Rick Wood, demonstrated to a packed
audience just how Buck has been trained to find drugs, illegal hunting
meat, guns and even ammo under a certain command. In his demonstration, Buck immediately found a pouch of bear meat hidden in Wood’s vest. “Buck is the best partner a police officer can have, he lives
with me and he goes to work with me,” Steingart said. “He is one of only a handful of dogs in this region to be trained at what he does. He has a very good success rate and has been credited with solving many cases.”
After the demonstrations were held, many people checked out all
the exhibits and tried their hands at archery and fishing.
“I like the petting zoo and the animals you can go right up and touch them,” said David Schiff of Liberty. “I like the fish pond and just everything about this place. It is a lot of fun.”
David’s mother, Chrissy Schiff, added, “When my husband Mike
and I first brought the kids here it was such a great day, and we have come every year since then. David actually got his first taste of fishing here and from that day he has been fishing ever since. It is a very family-oriented event and everyone is so helpful with the kids.”
“It is really nice to see all the families out here today trying the art of fly fishing to archery to BB gun shooting,” he said. “It is just a great way to get the kids outdoors and all the kids here today have been having a great time. I know myself it has been a lot of fun.”
However, the Youth Expo would not be complete without the fishing seminar presented by Jack Danchak and Chester Stungis, who represented the Sullivan County Bass Club. Danchak and Stungis showed the crowd many different types of poles and tackle and several ways to cast a line.
Danchak, who is also President of the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, spoke of the event with great pride.
“We are now in our 13th year and the Federation of Sportsmen have proudly supported this event all these years and we will continue to do so,” he said. “My wife Kay, myself, and the many members of the federation, as well as our sponsors, friends and volunteers, have all come together today with the same goal in mind, to get the kids outdoors and to have fun.
“Nature has so much to offer and it is just a nice day outside whether you are fishing, hunting or whatever other sporting skill you may be doing, it is great,” Danchak added. “Kids today need to be outdoors and to experience it and today we have given them all just a taste of what it is like out there and hopefully we do have many future fisherman and hunters out in the crowd today.”
The 2009 Youth Expo was sponsored by The Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, The Sullivan County Friends of the NRA, The Fish and Wildlife Coalition for Youth of the Hudson Valley-Catskills and the Sullivan County Democrat.
More than 180 children registered at the event with their parents and each child received a shirt, cap and take home gift package.