Each year State Park employees, some family members, volunteers and friends of parks get together on the Eastern Shore at Kiptopeke State Park for a very important event, The State Parks Benevolence Fund Fishing Tournament and Raffle. The fishing tournament began at 8am on Tuesday, Oct. 6 and concluded at noon on the 7th, followed by a cookout, awarding of placques to the big/most/ugliest fish winners and the annual drawing for raffle winners.
This year 55 people signed up for the fishing tournament, which may be a record. Those in attendance ranged in age from around 10 to 70, but deep down we were all kids at heart when you put a fishing pole in our hands. I believe fish were caught by all, unless you tried fishing from inside your cabin, trailer or tent. There were a vast variety of fish caught during the tournament in all sizes. A few sharks were caught around 24”, some decent keeper flounder over 20”, spot, croaker, gray trout, black bass, pig fish, oyster toads, sea robins, eels, and weird things to be catching on a hook, like, oysters, live blue crabs, shells, fishing line and other people fishing. Although most fished from the pier (some day and night), there were also some that went out in boats or used kayaks and went out to play around the concrete ships.
Although this is a “fishing tournament” it really isn’t about fishing as much as it is about getting together with park family after a long summer. I see some of my closest friends once a year at this event. Folks like Geoff Hall, Glenn Moorer, Tony Widmer, Ann Zahn, Forrest Atwood, Bruce Widener, and so many others. It is a time to relax and catch up with what’s going on in their lives and share a few laughs. There were other regulars we missed that couldn’t make it this year, like that familiar face of Anne Reeder on the pier, or Danette Poole and her family, or Charlie Conner and his wonderful family, or some of the boys from Leesylvania and Mason Neck that usually make their way to Kiptopeke. It was also fun to see some of the kids make it who enjoyed not only fishing, but some football and what was described as “home schooling” on the pier.
There is a very important reason this all takes place above and beyond the fishing and the fun. It is for our State Park Employees when life throws them an unexpected curve ball. As State Park Employees we don’t really make a lot of money, thus when unexpected bad luck hits, it can be very devastating on a family. I like to bill it as the “Fund for our employees with the hope that they will never need it.” It is our one big fund raiser for the fund that is held each year. This year’s tournament and raffle raised over $3,000:
-$910 for sign up for fishing tournament
-$119 in donations
-$2,550 in raffle ticket sales
$3,579 TOTAL minus $532 in expenses
WOW, that is impressive. What’s even more impressive is where this money ends up, helping fellow employees down on their luck. This past year money has been contributed to employees with very serious health issues, an employee who lost almost everything in a house fire and employees that have lost loved ones. Benevolence Fund Board of Directors members who manage the fund are Tony Widmer, Forrest Gladden, Dave Collett, Theresa Duffey and Ann Zahn.
When coming together for such a great cause and raising a substantial amount of money, it is important to thank all those that made this possible. First of all it all starts with great planning, marketing and implementation by a wonderful committee consisting of our leader Tony Widmer, with supporting cast of Glenn Moorer, Forrest Atwood, Fred Hazelwood and Geoff Hall. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes so when you show up, you really can just relax and enjoy a few days with family and friends. I would also like to thank Joey Widener for her assistance in keeping Tony straight and keeping track of who won what during the raffle drawing. I’d like to thank our hosts, Kiptopeke State Park staff who are always so wonderful, friendly and helpful. Patty Hazelwood is also always present and jumping in to help where needed, thank you so much. I am sure there is likely an individual or two I am missing and I apologize. It is important to thank the Board for getting the money to those that need it the most.
Finally THANK YOU, to those that participated in so many ways, those in the fishing tournament, those that bought $2,550 worth of raffle tickets, those that made or donated prizes for the raffle, those that just outright donated money to the cause and everyone that in one way or another made this possible. For anyone out there that didn’t come out for the tournament, or didn’t buy a raffle ticket or if you have a talent and could make a prize for the raffle but didn’t, think about what you just read and I hope next year you too will be part of the “fishing & fun, for the fund.”
Raffle Winners (the prize and who donated it appears first on the left, with the winner and their representing park on the right).
Mike Lambert, Schooner: John Hougland, High Bridge Trail
Bill Jacobs, Coat tree: Sam Sweeney, Kiptopeke
Mark Schuppin, Wooden Rocking Chair: Jim Kelly, Hungry Mother
Mrs. Carpenter, Quilt: Anne Reeder, Twin Lakes
Mrs. Carpenter, doll: Goldie Taylor
Mrs. Carpenter, doll: Sally Moore, Hungry Mother
False Cape Fishing Trip, Kyle Barbour: Charles Hester, Hungry Mother
Duck Hunting, Ken Benson: James Nash, Caledon
Potomac River Fishing w/ Klakowicz, Ken Benson: RJ Kukendal, Chippokes
Teak Pens, Forrest Gladden: Dave Floyd, Lake Anna
Rod/reel combo, Chris bait and tackle: Judy McPortland, High Bridge Trail
Fishing Placques, Donna Smith: Anne Pickle, Hungry Mother
Van Gogh Print, Don Byrne: Rebecca Hepler, Pocahontas
6 pk, Red Fish Ale, Debbie Coffin: Russel Johnson, York River
Slate Painting, Dannette Poole: Andy Reeder, Twin Lakes
6pk. Don Byrne Jr. Ale: RJ Kukendal, Chippokes
Peanuts/12pk ale, Debbie Coffin: Matt Wright, Westmoreland
White Teddy Bear, Ann Henderson: Goldie Taylor
Variety Basket, Central Office Staff: J. Piper, York River
Quilt, Joyce Bardens’ Husband: Kelly Sowder, Claytor Lake
Cedar Coffee Table, Brett Clawson: James Fields, Claytor Lake
[Editors’ note – for the more cynical reader, no state funds were used to support this event, and staff all take personal leave.]
For more information on other great fishing destinations in Virginia, click here.