Giving Back: Spend 25 cents & teach a child to fish

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, July 22, 2015

PAULINA — A quarter may not be able to buy you much entertainment these days, but that’s the only coin it will take for admission to the St. James Boat Club’s annual Junior Choupique Rodeo.

Included with the 25-cent fee is a hot dog and drink for every child who participates.

Junior Choupique Rodeo Chairman and St. James Boat Club Commodore Craig Calcagno said the annual rodeo has taken place for at least 25 years, adding the reason for the low entrance fee is simple.

“That’s what it was when I started,” Calcagno said of the charge.

Calcagno joined the St. James Boat Club, a non-profit organization, when he was 18, and said members have never voted in favor of raising the registration.

The only reason the club charges a fee at all, he said, is to teach the children about the rules and registration process.

Located on Airline Highway on the Blind River, the St. James Boat Club stands just outside the Town of Gramercy.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community,” Calcagno said of the rodeo, which on average draws 75 youth participants. “It brings the family together and teaches the kids there’s something else besides other sports and electronics.”

The rodeo is an opportunity to enjoy nature, Calcagno said, as well as a venue where children can learn how to follow rules and enjoy healthy competition.

The rodeo will be held Aug. 2 at the Boat Club, and organizers said male and female participants up to 15 years old are eligible to compete in the fishing rodeo.

Fishing will start at 9 a.m. and end at noon, organizers said, adding registration is necessary before entering. Fishing will be limited to the banks of the Blind River Point Area and Boat Launch Areas, and at the close of the rodeo awards will be given to the winners.

Call the St. James Boat Club at 225-869-8966 or Calcagno at 225-206-2476 to register.

Ribbons will be given to all participants, and random drawings will be held in each age group for rod and reels at the awards.

Winners must be present to win, and refreshments will be sold at the event.

Rules dictate no boats will be used at the rodeo, and each child must be accompanied by an adult and must furnish his/her own tackle and bait (live or artificial) and pole.

Awards will be given for the largest fish and most fish caught in three age groups: 0-5 years old, 6-10 years old and 11-15 years old.

“This is just one things we do,” Calcagno said, adding the Boat Club also hosts a senior citizen’s Thanksgiving dinner each year.