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Family and Community Program Says ‘Hola’ to Northwest Area Anglers

BY Jim Harris

ON 04-24-2024

230418_4CP Family Fun Day Flyer_Promotion3

SPRINGDALE — Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is a major holiday among the Hispanic community, celebrating a Mexican Army victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The holiday feeling will kick off here a day earlier — Saturday, May 4 — with a celebration of fishing and the outdoors when the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Family and Community Fishing Program brings its Family Fun Day to Murphy Park’s pond.

The free event, open to all, will be 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Murphy Park, 501 S. Pleasant St. Maurice Jackson, the program coordinator, said a concerted effort has been made to target advertising for the event toward the significant Hispanic population in northwest Arkansas.

“This event has a different twist because we’re doing a Latino push and putting out advertising in Spanish to reach that community,” he said, noting that in addition to fliers and print media advertising, the AGFC has also reached out through Univision of Arkansas, the state’s largest media outlet for the Hispanic audience.

“It’s actually the largest community fishing event in the state that is geared toward reaching out to the Hispanic population,” Jackson said. He added that a Family Fun Day is considered the “flagship event” for his program.

Jessica Feltz, the AGFC’s conservation social scientist, said 8 percent of the state’s population (in the 2020 U.S. Census) is Hispanic or Latino, and Washington and Benton counties are home to the highest percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents. The most recent national survey of anglers, which includes a state level report, estimates that 28 percent of Hispanic residents in Arkansas participate in fishing, or fished in 2022, she said.

The FCFP plans two or three Family Fun Day showcase events annually, featuring music, free food for the first 500 attendees, prizes, canoeing, archery and BB gun shooting, kids zone, fish cooking and cleaning demonstrations, wild game provided by Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry, and health screenings, among other outdoors-related activities. The number of other fishing derbies the AGFC and FCFP will be involved with — Jackson said the agency has scheduled around 300 derbies this fishing season — will limit their “fun day” events to two this year. Jonesboro’s Arkansas State University Pond is the site May 18 for this year’s other Family Fun Day.

In Springdale, personnel from the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center will help with the May 4 event along with staff from the AGFC’s Fisheries, Wildlife Management and Enforcement divisions, Jackson said.

A national grant through the George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar (“Let’s Go Fishing”) Education Fund, the nonprofit Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s state agency and local engagement initiative, has provided money to market the event, Jackson added. Trout Unlimited NWA was a partner with the AGFC in being awarded the grant and “dedicated time, volunteers and money to making the grant possible, as their chapter is focusing on outreach to underserved audiences as well,” JJ Gladden, AGFC assistant chief of education, said.

Jackson said, “That grant program was created to reach out to the Hispanic community to get them out fishing and boating, and that’s helping with the marketing aspect of this event. We generally get about 1,500 people to come out for Family Fun Days, but for this we’re expecting around 2,000.”

It marks the fourth Family Fun Day held in Springdale since the program began holding the flagship annual events — Shaw Family Park was the site of one and Murphy Park has played host to the others.

The event is free, with the exception of requiring a fishing license for those 16 and older. Everyone who fishes will need to bring their own fishing gear, though. The target is catfish, with tablefare-size fish being stocked in Murphy Lake.

Registration is required. Visit to sign up for Springdale; to register for the Jonesboro Famly Fun Day, visit

As part of the Vamos A Pascar grant to the AGFC for northwest Arkansas, a fishing class for the Marshallese community in the area will be held on Saturday, June 15, in addition to a fishing derby scheduled for Benton County, according to Marisol Alcaraz, the community outreach manager at the Ozark Highlands Nature Center. More information is available by calling 833-356-0867.

Along with the upcoming Jonesboro Family Fun Day event on May 18, the Family and Community Fishing Program will be dedicating two ponds in its program with derbies in coming weeks. The Weaver Family Community Pond in Vilonia will have an FCFP grand opening, also on May 18, and on June 15, one week after Free Fishing Weekend around Arkansas, the program will be in Greenbrier to welcome Matthews Park Pond to the program.

Both Faulkner County ponds were built during the COVID pandemic around 2020-21 and the program was unable to officially “dedicate” the two participants in the FCFP roster of ponds until now, Jackson said.

All of the FCFP ponds are stocked during spring with tablefare-size catfish, he added, noting that the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation is a big supporter of the program in making the flagship events and other derbies happen, along with the AGFF’s Steve Smith Endowment.

For a list of FCFP stocked ponds, visit

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