HOFNOD set for this weekend

For nearly 20 years, area kids have flocked to a kid-friendly event in March designed to help them make better choices, avoid harmful behaviors and spark their interest in fishing and other fun outdoor activities.

The Randolph County Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs (HOFNOD) Expo is set for 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and noon until 5 p.m. Sunday at the Elkins High School gym.

The HOFNOD Expo attracts hundreds of children and families each year by offering games, attractions and giveaways centered on the messages of healthy lifestyle choices and living a drug, tobacco and alcohol-free life. HOFNOD is a nationally recognized drug prevention program.

HOFNOD Committee Chairwoman Robin Miller said families can expect the same great atmosphere that they have come to love at the event. Some of the popular activities returning this year include the live fish pond, pet-a-snake and the climbing wall.

New attractions include a kid’s scavenger hunt and an appearance by Elkins City Police’s new drug dog, Macy. Also a new program through the Department of Natural Resources is offering a motorcycle simulator and safety program.

“This year parents will find a more targeted effort to educate kids on positive lifestyle hobbies and activities,” Miller said.

“We have a great line-up of local professionals who will talk about drug prevention and the negative effects of tobacco and alcohol use. We are fortunate to have many great natural resources right here in our area. We want to encourage families to get out and enjoy them.”

Miller said she has volunteered with HOFNOD for more than 10 years. She said the program originated in the schools and strives to get kids outside and into healthy outdoor activities.

“The kids have been cooped up all winter and are ready to get out and do things outside,” Miller said. “The event has all kinds of things for them to do that are fishing related and geared to helping them make wise choices.”

A silent auction also offers folks the opportunity to get some great merchandise.

“We are fortunate to have community businesses and sponsors that donate items for us to sell,” Miller said. “I started volunteering with the event because of Earl Channels. When he passed away, I just couldn’t let it go.”

Miller said this year, the event is striving to get back to the basics.

“We want the kids to do more than come and win a fishing pole,” Miller said. “We want kids to hear about how bad drugs are for them and our country.”

Elkins Chief of Police Robert White said he remembers the event in the early 1990s.

“In the beginning, the organizers called some local officers and we went to Stuart’s Park to talk with the kids,” White said. “It was kind of a big brother operative to open communications with youth. Through the years, the event has evolved into the Expo it is today.”

“HOFNOD is a great program with the intent to make a difference in young people’s lives,” White said. “It is a good, positive program that gives kids outdoor activities and hopefully is a drug deterrent. I hope this program gets their attention.”

Bruce Evans, president of the Izaak Walton League, said he and his wife have manned the concession stand for 19 years.

“This program began with the board of education years ago,” Evans said. “We paid for the substitute teachers so regular teachers could go to training to learn the guidelines to promote HOFNOD in the schools. When the board opted out, the event sponsorship was taken over by Davis Memorial Hospital.”

Evans said the Izaak Walton League runs a few booths, sells boat tickets and provides lots of manpower for the event.

“The important objective is to get the kids interested in the outdoors and fishing,” Evans said. “They need to get away from their electronic games and learn about the natural high they can gain from being outdoors and among our great natural resources.”

Evans said people need to bring their children so they can learn to make the right decisions about drugs and smoking.

“We need to help kids travel down the right path,” Evans said.

Evans said the kids really enjoy the hunting simulator, the electronic fishing simulator and the motorcycle simulator.

This year, the Tygarts Valley National Turkey Society is also sponsoring a turkey calling contest.

Miller says that Davis Health System is the gold sponsor of the event.

“We thank DHS for their long time assistance in terms of financial resources, volunteers and support,” she said.

“HOFNOD is an important community event that reaches out to youth and families with a positive message,” said Mark Doak, chief executive officer of DHS. “We’re proud to partner with HOFNOD and appreciate all of the hard work that goes into making it a success.”

Miller also recognizes the many other community sponsors who participate in and contribute to the EXPO.

“Without our sponsor support we would not be able to coordinate an event of this caliber. We are often told that the Randolph County event is one of the best youth-centered HOFNOD events in the state,” Miller said.

A variety of activities and vendors will feature interactive booths, games, prize giveaways and entertainment. During the two-day event, a thousand fishing poles will be awarded and many individual vendors will have chances to win other prizes.

Participants include but are not limited to the state Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Diversity Program, Roy Moose with snakes, Stonewall Jackson Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Bowden Fish Hatchery, DNR Law Enforcement, Davis Health System, Huttonsville Correctional Center, Elkins City Police, Grant County Health Department, Hospice Care, Tygarts Valley High School and Middle School Raze Club, VVVA Chapter 812, Aaron’s Sales & Lease, Pre-Historic Artifacts, Marine Corps League of Elkins, ATV Safety, Eastern Panhandle Safe Community Program, Chuck E’s Wholesale, West Virginia Motorcycle Safety Program, and the Mountaineer Chapter Izaak Walton League, Randolph Tucker Children’s Advocacy Center, Pioneer Insurance Agency Inc., Fishers of Men, Regional Tobacco Prevention, Allstate Insurance, Operation Christmas Child, Randolph County Family Resource Network, state Supreme Court of Appeals, Randolph County Local Emergency Planning Committee and 911, Double C’s Mountain Calls, FBI Community Fingerprints Program and the Elkins Kiwanis Club.

Area businesses making donations include Davis Health System, Davis Memorial Hospital Medical staff, Mike Ross Inc., Mountaineer Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, state Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation, Chuck E’s Wholesale House, Reliable Roofing Company, Newlons International Sales, Mary’s Greenhouse, Allegheny Insurance Services, Champion Auto, Parrack Insurance, The Art Medium Company, state DNR, Mountain Valley Bank and Reckart Logistics Inc.

For more information about the Randolph County HOFNOD, please contact Robin Miller at 304-637-3532.