More than a thousand children and their families gathered at the Pikeville City Pond on June 6 for the seventh annual “Fishing with Kids,” with organizers calling this year’s event another local success.

“Fishing with Kids” is an annual free event where children who attend receive a free fishing pole, bait and hooks, as well as instruction from local fishing professionals. This year, there were also prize drawings for attendees — like a kayak, bicycles and more — and prizes for children who collectively reeled in the largest catches during the event. “Fishing with Kids” was sponsored by the City of Pikeville, Mountain Comprehensive Care Center and Pepsi.

Event founder Chad Webb, a local fishing professional, said that last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were only allowed to have 150 people attend the event. This year, as there were no limitations on attendees, organizers said that more than 1,600 fishing poles, as well as bait and hooks, were given out during the event on June 6, which represents the number of children who participated. This number is greater than the attendance in 2019, where about 800 children and their families attended the event.

Webb said he felt enthusiastic about providing an event where many people in the city could come and enjoy fishing.

“This year is a blessing just because of the COVID-19 deal, everyone’s been shut up in their houses so long, and people are actually out enjoying themselves,” Webb said, as the event was about to start. “I see so many smiles already. ‘Fishing with Kids’ is about one thing: Sharing the love of fishing with kids. It’s as simple as that — no more, no less.”

He said he has continued to organize the event because he wants to share the activity of fishing with children and make the world a brighter, more happy place. He said he hopes to continue the event in the future.

“I have a theory: You can’t keep it if you don’t give it away,” Webb said. “I feel like the more I share this with people, the more I get out of it. I want to see people happy. I want to see our community happy, and this is a way to do that.”