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Soap box and fishing derbies mark Labour Day

Peter van der Maas and the Wellesley Lions Club are set to host the Wellesley Fishing Derby September 1 at 10 a.m. [Scott Barber / The Observer]

 

Peter van der Maas and the Wellesley Lions Club are set to host the Wellesley Fishing Derby September 1 at 10 a.m. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
Peter van der Maas and the Wellesley Lions Club are set to host the Wellesley Fishing Derby September 1 at 10 a.m. [Scott Barber / The Observer]
With summer drawing to an end, the kids in Wellesley will get one last chance to celebrate the summer holidays with the annual Labour Day soap box classic and fishing derby.

Each event, held in Wellesley village on September 1, brings a unique experience to kids and their families.

The fishing derby, held at the Wellesley pond kicks off the festivities at 10 a.m.

“We offer trophies for the biggest and the smallest fish that are caught,” organizer Peter van der Maas said. “The biggest prize is $150 which is awarded for catching a tagged fish.”

How do they tag the fish, you might wonder?

“The Ministry of the Environment used to do it, and they’d come here the week before the derby and grab a bunch of fish, tag them then throw them back,” van der Maas explained. “They’ve stopped doing it because of cutbacks; cutbacks have cut out little programs like that. So my self and another guy are going to a local trout pond and we’re going to snag some fish and put the tags on ourselves. …We’re just going to sew it on with a needle and thread. It goes through the dorsal fin so it doesn’t hurt them at all.”

Catching one of the tagged fish is a real challenge, though. In the six years the Wellesley Lions Club has hosted the derby, only two kids have done it out of the more than 200 participants who cast lines each year.

But it’s not just about the prizes.

“We’ve got people whose family come every Labour Day, including their grandparents, just so they can be a part of it with the kids,” van der Maas said. “We’ve got all the bells and whistles: the local butcher gives us his scale so we can weigh the fish and we have a leader board. The kids have a great time.”

It’s strictly catch and release, with most catches consisting of carp, and the occasional trout or bass.

After the fishing derby, kids can head over to Soap Box Classic, which begins at 2 p.m. on Nafzinger Road in front of First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

Hosted by the Wellesley and District Board of Trade, the event is entering its tenth year.

“The instigator was Terry Dennerley,” organizer Wendy Sauder said. “We were on the Board of Trade together and one day, in his lovely English accent he said, “We’ve got all these hills, I think it would be a lovely setting to hold a soap box derby.’ That was basically the line that got us going and the first year we spent our summer checking out kit cars and figuring out what kind of speed we need to get down a hill. We got together weekly to plan. But it was definitely just that one little line that got us going.”

Eventually, the group of Terry and Pat Dennerley and Wendy and Brian Sauder settled on a stretch of about 240 metres of Nafzinger Road.

“The (drivers) go down the hill and reach speeds of up to 30 kilometres an hour,” Sauder said. “In the past we had a police officer down at the bottom with a radar gun and that was quite exciting for the kids.”

The soap box cars can be purchased in kits or handmade, but they must meet specific guidelines. The most important, of course, is that the car be powered by gravity alone.

Waiver forms and the $12 entrance fee must be submitted by August 30. Registration for The Wellesley Soap Box Classic begins at 1 p.m. on September 1 in the parking lot of First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Age categories (as of Sept. 1, 2014) are 8-10, 11-13, 14-17 and 18+.

Registration for the Wellesley Fishing Derby is at 9 a.m. at the Wellesley Pond with the competition starting at 10 a.m. Tickets are $7 for anglers and includes entry in the derby, a drink, and a hot dog.

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