Warm greetings and smiling faces were abundant on Tuesday June 19 as the Liverpool Elks Lodge in Baldwinsville held their annual Veterans' Fishing Derby.
The event invites veterans from the VA Medical Center to come down to the Elk's Lodge for a couple hours, eat some great food, enjoy the company of others and go fishing at their own leisure.
As the event started, several large grills were fired up and the food was served forthwith. Chicken, sausage and other assorted barbecue foods were prepared for the veterans in lieu of hospital-style food they eat day in and day out.
Following the barbecue, after everyone had readjusted the notches on their belts, the fishing began. Veterans made their way to the docks, some by themselves, and others escorted. Fishing poles were distributed to those who wanted to fish (and there were plenty), while others were perfectly content watching the activity. Volunteers tended to participants' needs, running around baiting hooks and handling worm innards on their hands as they tried to keep up with the honorees' constant catches.
The derby began leisurely with occasional catches of sunfish, perch and rock bass. Then the fish really began to bite. One of the biggest catches came when Tony Jackson snagged not just one, but two large catfish.
While most were fishing, some were perfectly content just sitting in the lawn and shooting the breeze with their friends.
"We just want to get some of these guys out here for a couple hours, let them fish and have a good time. It's a little break from the ordinary," said Veterans Committee Chairman Michael Kaltenborn. "Out of all the events that these guys go to, I've been told that this is the one they look forward to the most."
As the event came to a close, the veterans made their way back up to the pavilion for dessert.
Kinney Drugs supplied T-shirts and Galvin Grocery (in Liverpool) supplied bait for the annual event. For more information about the VA Medical Center, call 425-4000. To become a volunteer for the Elk's Lodge, which serves both Baldwinsville and Liverpool, contact 622-2348 and ask for a veteran's committee member.