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TPWD News,, 512-389-8030

March 24, 2010

Outdoor Fools Day Offers Food, Fun and Outdoor Activities

ATHENS — Snakes will slither and turtles will crawl. Birds, arrows and rockets will fly. Dutch ovens will steam, fish will bite and kids will learn that life really is better outside.

All this and more will happen at Outdoor Fools Day at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center on April 10.

The annual event will run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and is free with regular paid admission to the center.

Returning for another year will be the popular Wildlife on the Move show, which features a variety of touchable animals and lots of information about them. Presenter Eric Brittingham delivers a rapid-fire presentation about the animals’ habitats and conservation and debunks myths such as "snakes are slimy."

If you believe they are, you won’t after you touch a 12-foot python.

The Blackland Prairie Raptor Group will show and fly various birds of prey while explaining their place in the ecosystem and why it is important to protect them.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Coastal Fisheries Division will present a salt-water touch tank that is always good for smiles and squeals as kids touch creatures that are harmless but don’t look it.

The Lone Star Bowhunters Association and the Dogwood Chapter of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society are perennial favorites at Outdoor Fools Day. Young and old alike enjoy flinging arrows at life-size replicas of deer, hogs and turkeys almost as much as they like snacking on tasty goodies cooked over coals and served up warm.

Tracking dogs from Texas Trackers will once again do their thing along the Wetlands Trail, demonstrating how these amazing dogs with their sensitive noses can follow the trail of a wounded animal. They also love to be petted. (Please leave your own dog at home. Pets are not allowed at TFFC.)

One of the most popular activities is rocket-building and launching, presented by Sky Ranch. In just a few minutes the Sky Ranch volunteers can help you build a paper- and duct tape rocket and launch it using compressed air. Some fly well and some aren’t constructed soundly enough to finish their voyage in one piece. It’s hard to say which one is more fun to watch.

Not really. There’s nothing like a good midair disassembly for entertainment.

Other exhibits will include the National Grasslands and Forests (yes, Smokey Bear will be here posing for pictures and giving out hugs), the Texas Master Naturalists and a glass-bottom stream with native insects and fish. A state park area will help you learn how to set up a camp. There will be fly-fishing instruction and information on hunter education.

In addition to the free samples handed out by the Dutch oven cookers, Ted Kamel Foods will be serving up fair-type food for purchase, and the TFFC gift shop is well-stocked with snacks and fishing-related clothing and gift items.

And don’t forget to bring an ice chest so you can take home some rainbow trout. Fishing is always free at TFFC, you never need a license, and bait and tackle are always furnished, but as long as the rainbows last, each person can harvest and keep up to five trout for free. Just be sure to check in at the Anglers Pavilion for orientation before fishing and report your catch there before leaving. You are welcome to bring your own fishing gear, but only single hooks with the barb mashed down are allowed.

Radio station KCKL will also be doing a live remote broadcast onsite. It’s not exactly American Idol-Athens, but they might let you sing along.

Outdoor Fools Day is made possible by the generosity of our sponsors: Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites-Athens; First State Bank; Schneider Electric; Mark Roberts, DDS; McDonald’s; Red Hat Rentals; FutureMatrix and Virtual Communication Specialists.

The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is at 5550 F.M. 2495, Athens, Texas, which is about 75 miles southeast of Dallas. For information or directions, call (903) 676-2277 or visit


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