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Bob Watt Fishing Rodeo turns 20

Looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon outdoors with your children? Don’t miss the Bob Watt Youth Fishing Rodeo at Anchor Park Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. Registration begins at 3 p.m.

Boy and girls, ages 15 and under, are invited to try their hand at fishing, weigh their catch and compete for prizes. Bait will be provided as well as rods and reels for children who do not bring their own.

This year, organizers have spruced up the annual event to mark the rodeo’s 20th year celebration.

Sue Stuhl, director of leisure services for the town of Farragut, said the rodeo is Farragut’s longest running event.

Bob Watt, the rodeo’s namesake, was instrumental in the event’s inception.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years,” he said. “It started off small and over the years, it has grown.”

Greg Williams, parks and recreation director, has assisted in nearly half of the rodeos. He said he likes the event because, “It’s a small-town kind of thing.”

Williams said Watt has actively increased participation year after year. One way Watt has spread the word is at Lovell Height’s Barber Shop where he has cut hair for over 35 years. He sold his shop to Ronnie Cockrum two years ago and is now semi-retired and barbers two days a week. Watt said he is pleased that Cockrum continues to co-sponsor and assist at the event.

“The kids love Ronnie,” Watt said.

“I think every child who gets in one of the chairs for a haircut hears about the rodeo,” Williams said. “Kids don’t fish as much as they used to. That’s something that was really important to Bob.”

Watt was introduced to fishing by his father and has carried on the tradition to his four children and grandchildren. He shares an annual fishing trip to Florida with his sons.

“Many kids never get an opportunity to fish,” Watt said. “Fishing teaches patience and endurance. The fish don’t always bite, so you just have to sit there and wait for the bobber to go under.”

Unlike previous years, children will be fishing for hybrid blue gill instead of catfish.

“They’ll probably bite a little better than the catfish,” Watt said.

Williams said many in the community have also supported the event over the years.

“We have plenty of rods to loan out for two reasons,” he said. “People have made donations and we have purchased rods, or barber shop patrons have dropped off old rods and someone has refurbished them.”

Watt said he is thankful that residents are supportive. He said he remembers when a young man came to the rodeo and wanted to help.

“At the end of the day, he told me that I had introduced him to fishing 15 years ago at the rodeo. He wanted to give something back. Those kind of things made this worthwhile,” he said.

Each year, Watt hopes that more parents bring their children to the event.

“Children get an opportunity to do something they may never get to do. They don’t have to have a special talent. Fishing is something anyone can do,” he said.

Watt said that in its 20-year history, the rodeo has never been rained out. Should the forecast call for rain or for more information, call 966-7057.


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