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Fishing Rodeo honors past organizer

May 02, 2009|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

SHARPSBURG -- Julie Kline remembers the years when her brother, Michael Andrew Kline, organized the Sharpsburg Fishing Rodeo.

"He loved to do things for the kids," she said. "He was really into them."

At this year's event on Saturday, Michael's role was much different. He died April 6, 2008, at the age of 39.

A park bench engraved with Michael Kline's name sits on the lawn at Sharpsburg Pond.

"The rodeo is in memory of him," Sharpsburg Town Councilman Bryan Gabriel said.

Gabriel said he knew Michael Kline.

"He would have been bummed out that it rained for the rodeo today," Gabriel said.

But Gabriel and Julie Kline agreed Michael would have been doing all he could to ensure the children at the rodeo were "still having fun."

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This year's organizers, likewise, did all they could to carry on that positive spirit.

Julie Kline purchased piles of toy prizes for rodeo participants, while Gabriel handled administrative duties. Nutter's Ice Cream provided coupons for a free treat for the young fishing enthusiasts.

Gabriel said attendance for the event was low, most likely due to the rainy weather. The event started at 7 a.m., and rain fell almost continuously from then until about 9:30 a.m.

"In past years, we've had more than 70 kids out here," Gabriel said. "This year, we have about 20."

Though turnout was low, the wet weather did not dampen the spirits of the children who did attend.

Peyton Kirchner, 5, of Smithsburg, said she had fun fishing and she caught a small sunfish. Her sister, Sydney Kirchner, 8, did not catch anything Saturday, but her hopes remained high.

"Fishing is really fun, especially when you catch a big trout," she said.

The girls' mother, Deena Kirchner, said she thought the rodeo was "wonderful."

"It's a great way to get outside with the children," she said.

Garron Long, 9, of Boonsboro -- Julie Kline's son -- said he had a lucky day at the event to honor his uncle.

"I got three trout, one bass and two 'sunnies,'" Garron said.

The set of fish won Garron first prize in his age group for the most fish caught.

John Strauss, 10, of Keedysville, fished at the rodeo with his father, Dr. Albert Strauss. The two said they have attended the rodeo for the past four or five years.

John did not receive any honors for his age group as he had not caught any fish. So he said he was thankful organizers gave a toy prize to everyone who attended.

"I got a Cyclo Truck that goes in all different directions," he said.

"He wins the prize for arriving at 7 a.m. in the rain and staying," Albert Strauss joked.

Just then, as the rodeo was winding down around noon, John felt a tug on his line. He reeled it in and landed a 15-inch rainbow trout.

"I love the rodeo," John said. "It's a lot of fun."

Albert Strauss commended the organizers for their efforts in providing the fishing experience for children.

"I just think it's a very, very nice thing," he said.

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