Children donning face paint and clinging to balloon animals lined up and eagerly awaited their turn to cast their lines at Fishing at the Falls Saturday.
The Mirabeau Falls pond was stocked with 500 pounds of rainbow trout for the event, which was held at Mirabeau Point Park in Spokane Valley as a part of Valleyfest 2010.
The pond was stocked with enough trout that each child who fished could catch one, said Travis Joyce, an employee of Wholesale Sports, the company that provided the fish.
“That’s what we strive for,” Joyce said. “Every kid gets a fish, so no one goes home disappointed.”
In previous years, the children got to bring their catch home, but after Valleyfest organizers found dead fish all over the park last year, they decided to donate them instead, Joyce said.
This year, the fish will be given to Spokane’s Union Gospel Mission to help feed the homeless.
“Most of the parents are usually delighted they are going to the Gospel Mission,” said Michelle Flugel, a volunteer with Northwest Sportsmans Club. “The parents don’t want to mess with the fish.”
Even though 9-year-old Tristen Green was ready to move on to other activities before she caught a fish, she would have been happy to donate her catch, she said.
“I think it’s nice because people don’t have food and they need to eat food,” she said. “I never really caught a fish and I really wanted to.”
Tristen and her 7-year-old sister, Tegan, squealed with a mixture of disgust and delight as they peered into a cooler and gingerly touched one of the freshly caught fish.
“It feels squishy,” Tegan said, giggling.
Inland Northwest Wildlife Council provided the rods and reels, while most event volunteers were from Northwest Sportsmans Club.
“The kids have a great time,” Flugel said. “They’re all smiles.”
Fishing at the Falls is just one of many events at Valleyfest 2010 this weekend. The three-day event kicked off with the Hearts of Gold Parade on Friday.
Other children’s attractions include a petting zoo, an art booth, a gymnastics obstacle course and the PG Comedy Cup Open.
“I’ve never been before and it’s an awesome event,” said Molly Smith with Kick-Fun Family Martial Arts and Activity Center, which sponsored the gymnastics obstacle course. “They offer so much in one little area. It’s very kid-friendly.”
The festival features attractions for adults as well, including a classic car show, food and wine from local vendors and a hot air balloon show, in which 80-foot-tall hot air balloons are inflated and launched.
If that is not enough to fill festival-goers’ time, Valleyfest 2010 also has three music and entertainment performance stages and a maze of booths, where more than 70 local and national vendors sell their goods and provide free activities for children.
Attracting about 40,000 people each year, Valleyfest is geared toward members of the greater Spokane community but also pulls in other visitors.
Raivis and Anda Miklavs came all the way from Riga, Latvia, to Spokane to spend time with friends and family, and attended the festival.
“We just enjoyed family,” Anda Miklavs said. “It’s fun for all ages, for kids and adults.”