Tyke’s derby finished after 36 years

tykes lucky buckA nearly forty-year tradition that was responsible for introducing dozens, if not hundreds, of children to the sport of ice fishing will not be held this winter.

Elaine Phillips said Monday that Tyke’s Kids’ Fishing Derby will not be held this year. The event has been held for the past 36 years.

“With the weather the last few years and trying to get donations, it’s just gotten too hard,” said Phillips who has organized the event since the derby’s founder, Stephen “Tyke” Phillips, died in 2008.

The event was first held in 1976 and during its heyday attracted anywhere from 50 to 100 people.

Stephen Phillips, who owned a small bait shop on the corner of Clinton Street and Broadway, started the derby as a way to encourage local children to get out and enjoy fishing.

Every kid who participated in the derby received a prize—very often some type of fishing equipment—and a dollar bill the event’s founder liked to call a “lucky buck.”

When Phillips died five years ago, his family picked up the mantle and kept the event going for the last several years.

But the derby has experienced some difficult times the past several years.

In 2010 warm temperatures forced the derby to the shores of South Bay and in 2011 rain and sleet hampered participation. Last year’s event was nearly canceled after organizers received half the donations they typical receive and Phillips said if things didn’t improve, the derby’s future was in jeopardy.

Unfortunately for the community’s young anglers, things didn’t change.

“Times are getting tough and people just don’t have the money to donate,” Phillips said.

At 36 years old, the derby is one of the oldest hard water fishing events in the area and many of the anglers who participated in the event when they were young brought along their own children years later.

Phillips said her family has enjoyed holding the derby and expressed some disappointment that the event will no longer continue. But she said it wouldn’t be fair to the kids to continue with a diminished event.

“We’ve enjoyed all the times we had whether we had good weather or bad, but we just can’t do it anymore.

“We appreciate everything all the people have done over the years.”






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