BINGHAM — The Chamber of Commerce is beginning the town’s bicentennial year celebration with an ice fishing derby.

The Upper Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce is accepting entries for the 11th annual Wyman Lake Ice Fishing Derby, which will be at the Moscow lake on Friday, Jan. 20, through Sunday, Jan. 22.

The chamber anticipates several hundred participants and is encouraging people to buy the $10 entry tickets early and find lodging for the two nights, said Chamber president Cyndee Gagnon.

“The fishing’s good right now. My husband’s been every day and caught at least two fish a day,” she said.

The chamber is particularly trying to attract families and children to the Bingham area, she said, and will be awarding lifetime youth fishing licenses, in addition to about 25 more items, as raffle prizes.

The entry fee offsets the derby’s costs, goes toward the cash prizes for adults and helps pay for the Chamber’s annual free Christmas party for all area children.

The person to catch the largest game fish will win $250. Second place gets $150 and third place receives $100. The person under 16 who catches the largest fish of any type will win $50.

“The big thing now is we have ice,” Gagnon said. “We have a good eight to nine solid inches of ice.”

Though the fishing derby is happening in Moscow, it’s kicking off Bingham’s bicentennial because there will be such a large influx of people to the area, Gagnon said. The Chamber serves Bingham, Caratunk, Concord, Moscow, Pleasant Ridge, Solon, The Forks and West Forks.

The derby day ends at 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. People may start fishing at any time, Gagnon said, but the weigh-in trailer, which will also sell hamburgers, hot dogs and chili, will open at 7 a.m.

The trailer will be at the Moscow boat launch, eight miles north of Bingham on U.S. Route 201.

About $5,000 worth of door prizes will be awarded at the close of the derby. Prizes include a 9-inch Jiffy ice auger, four-man ice shack, gift certificates to L.L. Bean, George’s Banana Stand, New Balance and Hannaford, in addition to other items.

The derby is not just about fishing, but about promoting the region, Gagnon said.

The event is “just trying to bring people to the area and let them know there is a lot to offer up in the Maine woods,” she said. There’s a new ice skating rink at the Baker Mountain ski area in Moscow, in addition to the usual trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

People should dress warmly for the fishing derby, Gagnon said. They may bring ice shacks and must bring their own fishing gear, traps and bait.

Last year more than 200 people participated, and that was with two snowstorms, Gagnon said. Families and friends should come together because “you’re outdoors instead of sitting on the couch watching TV. And you can spend some quality time together.”

She said if people would like to donate or volunteer they may call her at 672-4191. For more information visit www.upperkennebecvalleychamber.com.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

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