Angevine Park pond will be the site of this year's Free Fishing Festival
After a two-year stay in the pond at Sunday River's Summit Hotel, the Maine Free Family Fishing Festival is returning to Bethel.
Town selectmen recently approved unanimously a request from the Upper Andro Anglers Alliance to hold this year’s festival at the Angevine Park pond, off the North Road.
This will be the fifth year for the festival, according to the UAAA’s Wende Gray. The first two were at the Great Adventure Center in Bethel.
This year conflict with a wedding scheduled at the Summit forced festival organizers to seek other waters, Gray said.
“But we’d love to host it regularly at Angevine Park,” she said, noting especially the shallow (kid friendly) slope of the banks around the one-acre, manmade pond, and its location near Bethel village.
At their meeting the selectmen were assured by Town Manager Jim Doar that he had checked with a biologist regarding the proposal, “and it looked good to him.”
Their subsequent discussion of the request was brief, and focused on matters of hygiene.
Bob Everett worried about bacteria introduced by the fish, or their remains, and the possible effect on people swimming in the pond after the festival.
Gray, who presented the proposal, said plans call for introducing 100 eight-inch brown trout.
“They're expendable fish,” she said, and the sponsors hope will be nearly all caught.
And even if they are not, Selectman Don Bennett said, nature should take care of any waste matter.
The 12-foot deep pond is aerated, he said, and the column of bubbles carries material from the bottom of the pond up to the surface.
Once there, “the sun'’s rays working in the top quarter inch of water kill e-coli bacteria,” Bennett said.
Bennett, one of the leaders in developing the park, also noted that pre-construction hydrology studies showed the apparently stagnant pond is actually fed by a “very slow moving aquifer,” constantly flowing southeast toward the Androscoggin River.
“If you did nothing to the water [in the pond],” he said, it would be totally replaced in a matter of a few months.
But Selectman Dennis Doyon did see one remaining drawback to the plan.
“It will take all the fun from the people who call it a ‘frog pond,'” Doyon said, “because the fish will eat the frogs.”
“And the bugs,” added Doar.
This year’s Free Family Fishing Festival is scheduled for Saturday, June 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. – rain or shine.
The Fishing Festival will be preceded on May 19 by another water-related event in which the public is invited to take part.
As part of National River Cleanup, UAAA members and students from the Telstar High School Challenge Course will clean up a section of the Androscoggin River from Gilead to West Bethel.
The clean-up flotilla will launch at 9 a.m. from the bridge at Gilead and take out at Newt’s Landing in West Bethel.
The students, ages 16-18, will float down the river in rafts armed with garbage bags, and towing garbage-scow rafts to collect debris along the riverbanks.
Community members are welcome to help clean up this and other stretches of the river. The town of Bethel will collect the trash at Newt’s Landing and deliver it to the town’s solid waste facility.
Magic Falls Rafting Company of West Forks, Maine, will provide rafts and garbage scows. Immediately following the clean-up, Pleasant River Campground in West Bethel will host a barbecue for all participants.
The UAAA is co-ordinating the local clean up. “There’s been a long-standing effort to improve the Androscoggin’s water quality and fishery, said local clean-up co-ordinator and UAAA director Bruce Pierce of Newry. “Now we need to improve the shoreland zone along this wonderful river.”
Rivers and watersheds have been used as dumps for old appliances, shopping carts and other refuse. Litter, such as foam cups, plastic bottles and food wrappers float into waterways, build up along the shoreline and stay there for years. With landfill space at a premium, recycling efforts stymied by a lack of plant capacity and toxic waste expensive to control, a grassroots effort can help maintain a constituency for preserving and protecting waterways. In 2009, 600 tons of trash and debris was collected and 7,500 miles of rivers cleaned across the nation. Last year, according to organizers, the Upper Andro yielded over a ton of debris, including bed springs, tires and rims and a 1950’s record player.
More information on National River Cleanup can be found at www.nationalrivercleanup.org.