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GRAFTON - The 35th annual Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair invites community members to come out for a day of fishing and outdoor fun.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, 2024, people can come to Pere Marquette State Park to try their hand at the fishing stations, win prizes and watch shows throughout the day. The event means a lot to community members who have attended the Fishing Fair for decades. Organizer Scott Isringhausen, the urban fishing coordinator with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, can’t wait to see this year’s catches.

“My job as the urban fishing coordinator is to truly get kids hooked on the outdoors and hooked on fishing,” Isringhausen said. “But I think it’s so important, and even much more important today, to get the kids outdoors. I just feel a deep passion to try to help educate kids about the outdoors and truly get them outside.”

Kids can enjoy a catch-and-release bluegill pond and take a photo with their first catch. They can also participate in the One-Cast station, where everyone wins a prize, and try their hand shooting at moving targets at the bow-fishing stations.

Youths who complete seven of the 30-plus stations at the fair win a prize. They will also be entered to win a $100 gift card to Farm & Home and a six-hour fishing trip for two with Alex Nagy of Twisted Cat Outdoors.

Kids can also try to catch a trout in the trout pond. Isringhausen said lucky fishers will have their fish cleaned in front of them so they can actually eat the trout they catch. At the end of the event, they will drain the pond and show kids how to catch fish by hand.

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The popular Fetch-N-Fish program will return to this year’s Fishing Fair. Jason Reynolds will have a 4,000-gallon mobile aquarium with many of the fish species found in the Illinois River, and he’ll be conducting seminars and dog shows.

Camo the Clown will return, and Isringhausen promises Camo is “full of energy and so entertaining.” The Lodge Brothers Band will provide music throughout the day, and Alex Nagy with Twisted Cat Outdoors will be back on the scene to talk about catfish fishing in the area. Isringhausen said that the Riverbend region has “one of the best catfish fisheries in the United States,” and he’s excited for Nagy’s return to the fair.

There will also be a few new additions to the Fishing Fair, including the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show. Isringhausen is especially excited to see these performances, which will be spread out throughout the day. Les and Keaton Stanstipher of S&S Guide Service will also be present, and they plan to conduct crappie fishing seminars onsite.

“I try to do something new, and this being the 35th year, I really wanted to do something big. I’ve added a couple of big things,” Isringhausen explained. “I think people from Jersey, Madison, Macoupin counties that never really get a chance to go to the state fair or see something pretty fabulous, I think people are really going to like the lumberjack shows.”

The Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair is hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge (administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and Pere Marquette State Park (administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources). The event is completely free, with poles, bait and supplies provided. No fishing license or gear are required.

“Now we’re seeing people that are bringing their kids there that were there when it started. So it’s a tradition,” Isringhausen added. “It’s been going on for a long time and I’m hoping it continues to go on for a long time.”

For more information about the Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair, you can call Pere Marquette State Park at 618-786-3323.

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