The 10th annual Scott Wozniak Memorial Fishing Derby was held at Barrier Lake on Dec. 27, 2015. In the biting wind and sub-zero temperatures, contestants settled onto the ice to compete in the annual event honouring the memory of Lorne and Debbie Wozniaks’ son Scott.
Since its inception in 2006, fisher-men and -women, families and children have attended the popular derby on a regular basis.
With this year’s mild winter causing the ice to be only 12 to 14 inches thick, the derby was held closer to shore and, as an added safety precaution, vehicles were kept on the perimeter of the lake.
Support for the derby was evident in the number of shacks and tents scattered over a wide area, some 30 in all, their inhabitants avoiding the chill wind. The more hardy souls stood vigil over their territories, willing that elusive fish to take the bait, hoping to win one of the spectacular prizes that were part of an abundance of giving by local businesses and organizations.
The food shack helped keep the cold at bay by serving some 200 hot dogs, 120 smokies and copious amounts of coffee and hot chocolate that enticed contestants to abandon their fishing holes just long enough for them to ice over.
At 2 p.m., “time” was called and no fish had been caught. Names were drawn from a bucket and first place was awarded to Jim Leffler, while second place went to Brendan Derksen and third to Cindy Derksen. Two lucky people won the 50/50 draws, with a total payout of $819, and Talon Kearley of Airdrie, Alta., won the ice auger.
The day would not have been possible without the support of volunteers throughout the entire event, organizing, serving and helping to make the derby what it is. The generosity of sponsors was obvious by the myriad of prizes spilling over three large tables.
The Mallard Wildlife Federation, the recipient of the derby proceeds over the years, has donated such items as defibrillators to local hospitals, canoes for school trips, and land earmarked for wildlife.
Lorne and Debbie Wozniak, who have organized the derby for the past decade, are handing over its operation to the wildlife federation but will remain involved in the years to come.
By Andy Labdon