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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Page 8 NEWFOUNDLAKELIFE.COM February 2021 Community
 Alexandria Firefighters Association’s Annual Ice Fishing Derby on Newfound Lake Slated for Late February
By donna rhodes
ALEXANDRIA – Looking forward to their 30th Annual Ice Fishing Derby, the Alexan- dria Firefighters Association, in conjunction with the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department, has put a lot of thought and planning into their popular fundraising event to make sure it is not only successful but safe in the midst of the Corona-19 virus pandemic. Now all they need is Mother Na- ture to cooperate by providing some ice on Newfound Lake.
“There’s not much ice out there right now, but that’s not unusual,” said AVFD fire fighter and derby organizer Jim Shokal.
Scheduled this year for Feb. 27-28, the Newfound Lake derby is one of just a handful of ice fishing derbies sanctioned by the State of New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department. For sev- eral years it was held in January but they discovered that February was a much better time to insure ice safety, so the date was even- tually changed to the end of the following month.
Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1963. Its beginnings in the rural
community came about after a local resident tragically lost his wife in a residential fire at a time when there was no local fire department in the town. Sadly, response from outside commu- nity departments arrived too late to save her or their home. Her surviving husband then decided to use the land where his house once stood to build a fire depart- ment for the Town of Alexandria in hopes that no one else would suffer a similar loss.
“Fifty-five years later, the orig- inal purpose and cause of the Al- exandria Fire Department is still holding strong with over 20 vol- unteer men and women who re- spond at all times of the day and night to assist those in need,” the Firefighters Association said.
In 2016 voters in Alexandria approved a warrant article that called for the town to assume responsibility for the depart- ment. As a result, the land and building deed was turned over to the town, creating a municipal, rather than a privately owned, fire department.
“The corporation that was the department changed its name and became the Alexandria Vol-
unteer Firefighters Association,” representatives of the organiza- tion said.
Since its inception as a mu- nicipal fire department, Alexan- dria’s firefighters and supporters have also continued their dedi- cation toward providing the men and women of AVFD with the equipment they need to protect the community. While the town now oversees funding for build- ing maintenance, major equip- ment and vehicle purchases, the association still holds fundraisers, such as the annual ice fishing derby, that bring in much needed money for other equipment and supplies necessary for the depart- ment’s function. All funds raised through their derby and other year round events also help sup- port the town’s emergency shel- ter.
Shokal said that the derby is certainly the biggest fundraiser they hold, attracting anglers from all across New Hampshire and even beyond. Besides the
thrill of pulling in large perch, cusk, pickerel, lake and rainbow trout, participants each year also hope to bring home cash prizes and perhaps a trophy for their catch. Raffle prizes from several area businesses can also make even a slow weekend on the lake a winning experience when tick- ets are drawn every 30 minutes over day time hours of the two- day event. All purchases of a $20 derby ticket are included in those drawings and people need not participate in fishing nor be pres- ent in order to win.
Top prizes in the AVFA An- nual Ice Fishing Derby begin with a Grand Prize of $1,000 for the overall longest fish of any sanctioned species. There is also a $500 prize for the second lon- gest catch of the weekend and $250 for third. In the individual species categories of rainbow trout, lake trout, cusk, pickerel and perch, the top three catches receive $150, $100, and $50 checks respectively. Children also
can take home a beautiful trophy, courtesy each year from the Sim- ula Family, for a prize-winning catch in the Youth Division. Oc- casionally a young boy or girl has even been fortunate enough to bring in the overall largest catch in one of the general categories and received a cash prize as well.
The crew from AVFA has been working hard to create safe parameters for participants and spectators in 2021. Head- quarters for the derby will once again be at the boat launch in Wellington State Park where there is ample space to allow for social distancing. The crew has a new stove to prepare lunch and breakfast foods for sale in their cook trailer, and in light of the Covid virus, they have arranged for all fish entries this year to be passed through a window in the neighboring headquarters trailer where they will be measured. All derby officials will also be wear- ing a mask to keep the possibility of NY germ exposure to a mini- mum and they encourage others to do the same when coming to the headquarters and leader board locations.
“We want to do this as normal as possible,” said Shokal. “It will be a little different this year, but it’s an outdoor event and there’s plenty of room for people to re- main safe.”
Derby tickets, live bait and fishing equipment are on sale at Newfound Sales on Lake St. in Bristol as well as at Newfound Country Store on the Mayhew Turnpike in Bridgewater, where there will also be live bait, gas and warm outer wear available.
As for ice conditions, Shokal said it is a “wait and see game” at the moment. The organiza- tion will stay in close touch with N.H. Fish and Game officers in the days leading up to the derby though, and any updates will be posted on their Facebook page.
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Office: 603-744-9433 Bristol, NH Cell: 603-738-3399

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