MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - For the past decade, members of Bloomfield Baptist Church's Urban Ministry have stocked the lake at Martin Luther King Park off South Parkway with thousands of fish, and invited hundred of youngster to come out and catch them.
"It's become the largest fishing rodeo in the region now," the Rev. Ralph White said. "What's unique about ours is the kids don't have to pay anything. Everything is free."
The church provides rods, reels, and bait - everything necessary for youngsters to have fun.
"We put 2,000 pounds of catfish in the pond, so they're sure catch something," White said.
Children from age seven to seventeen are invited, and organizers say more than just fishing goes on at these rodeos.
"We're trying to establish some activities for the young people; some things that are positive and somewhat out of the norm," White said.
Many participants have never been fishing before. Learning the ropes from caring adults helps develop special bonds that are aimed at helping children make good decisions in life. And while a lot of young men show up every year, more and more young girls are getting involved in the rodeo too.
"It's been great," White said. "We were surprised the first two or three years. We talk about young guys, but the winners were young ladies, so young ladies are as excited about it as our young men."
Prizes are awarded to winners in a variety of categories.