ROANOKE, W.Va. — Great weather is forecast for the weekend for the annual National Hunting and Fishing Day Celebration at Stonewall Resort State Park in Lewis County. The annual event, which is a collaboration of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the West Virginia Wildlife Federation, is Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ll have a variety of things going,” said Kayla Donathan, Coordinator for the DNR. “We’ll have vendors, exhibits, and a variety of exhibitions from both in state and out of state.”
Returning for another year will be archery expert Byron Ferguson. He’ll be putting on two demonstrations at the event. Also on hand for a second year will be Neal James of the Animal Planet show “Call of the Wildman.” James will be walking the grounds, playing his banjo, and available for pictures and autographs. Seminars on coyote calling and creating hunting videos will also be part of the weekend’s educational activities.
The Youth Outdoor Challenge will be back with hundreds of kids participating.
“It’s free for kids and everybody participating will get a t-shirt,” Donathan said. “Two winners will be chosen to receive Lifetime Hunting and Fishing license.”
The event is a celebration of West Virginia’s hunting and fishing heritage. The first even was in the 1970’s and was staged at the West Virginia Wildlife Center in Upshur County. Eventually the event outgrew the Upshur County facility and was moved to Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park where it continues to expand.
West Virginian’s celebration is one of many across the country and is considered the second largest gathering in the United States.
The first to suggest an official day of thanks to sportsmen was Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe’s Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pa. In 1970, Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer adopted Joffe’s idea and created “Outdoor Sportsman’s Day” in the state.
With determined prompting from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the concept soon emerged on the floor of the U.S. Senate. In June 1971, Sen. Thomas McIntyre, N.H., introduced Joint Resolution 117 authorizing National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. Rep. Bob Sikes, Fla., introduced an identical measure in the House. In early 1972, Congress unanimously passed both bills.
On May 2, 1972, President Nixon signed the first proclamation of National Hunting and Fishing Day, writing, “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.”
By late summer, all 50 governors and over 600 mayors had joined in by proclaiming state and local versions of National Hunting and Fishing Day.
The event is celebrated nationwide on the 4th Saturday in September. West Virginia, because of the popularity of hunting and fishing, stretches it into a full weekend celebration.
Gates open at 9 a.m. each day and close at 6 p.m. Admission is $6 for 16 and up. Under age 16 get in free.
Tune into MetroNews Radio tomorrow morning and West Virginia Outdoors will originate live from the event on many of our MetroNews Stations. You can also listen here streaming on wvmetronews.com