A family friendly event Saturday on Cobbossee Lake in Monmouth will double as a Project Graduation fundraiser for Cony High School in Augusta.

An ice fishing derby is scheduled to take place starting at dawn Saturday and running until 3 p.m., with prizes for a variety of fish sizes and types.

In a normal year, organizer Julie Franchetti Stolt said, Cony would host a couple of fundraisers to pay for Project Graduation, a graduation night tradition geared toward keeping the former students safe while allowing a final goodbye before college. It was canceled last year due to coronavirus, and no fundraising efforts took place until the beginning of this school year.

Stolt said the organizing parents had to get creative to raise money for Project Graduation in a coronavirus-safe way.

“We had to do out-of-the-box thinking,” she said. “We hosted a golf tournament (in the fall) and it was COVID compliant and spread out, and then the idea of ice fishing was tossed around. It’s been a lot of work.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 400 people had signed up to take part in Saturday’s event.

Organizer Garrett Murch only expects that number to rise, by probably 100, as people register the day of the tournament.

“Some people that know derbys say a huge proportion (of people) don’t sign up until the day of,” he said.

Murch plans on ice fishing — something he started with his father when he was a young boy — with his wife and his parents.

“I grew up ice fishing,” he said. “I didn’t realize how excited people got.

“For Maine ice fishing, it’s some people’s favorite time,” Murch added. “It’s a chance for them to get a big fish and it’s a passion that many have.”

Stolt won’t be fishing, but said her son Bobby, a Cony senior, is planning on camping on the lake overnight with friends to get a head start Saturday morning when the tournament begins.

She said many people have signed up to have a chance to win some of the large prizes being offered. In addition to prizes for the largest fish, there is also something for the person who catches the smallest. Most prizes and fishing materials were donated by a dozen derby sponsors.

“Max Traps donated for the smallest fish, Milwaukee Tools donated the drill, Deb Walden wrote a book that she wanted to raffle off, we have gift cards,” Stolt said, highlighting some of the donations.

The derby will be giving out an assortment of prizes for both the size of the fish caught and the type of fish caught. The person who catches the largest northern pike will be rewarded with $750, while the child  catching the smallest fish wins a 48-inch trap.

Stolt ensures the event will be “COVID-19 friendly,” even though there will be more than 400 participants.

There will be no food or drink offered or sold to participants, and traffic flow on the ice will be in one direction. Families will be spread out across the ice, too.

Bathrooms are located at the Monmouth docking spot off of the lake.

“We want to keep in mind that it’s a kid-sponsored event for fun,” Stolt said. “It’s fundraising, but we want to have as much fun as we can and get out there and be safe.”

People interested in signing up can do so online.

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