Get Outdoors This Spring At The OV Fishing And Heritage Day
Published: May 6th, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Get outdoors this spring at the OV Fishing and Heritage Day Children fishing at a previous Otselic Valley Fishing and Heritage Day. This year’s festival will take place on Saturday, May 21, with fishing demonstrations provided by the DEC and Trout Unlimited from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the South Otselic fishing pond. (Submitted photo)

OTSELIC VALLEY — The Otselic Valley Fishing and Heritage (OVFH) Association will be encouraging Chenango County residents to get outdoors and learn something new on Saturday, May 21 at their 13th annual Fishing and Heritage Day.

The festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the hamlet of South Otselic, and feature many local vendors, organizations, and businesses as well as several free, interactive activities and presentations for all ages and interests.

“Our goals are to make people aware of and to appreciate the natural resources of the valley, of the river particularly, fishing, and then all the heritage and the history of the communities along the Otselic River,” said OVFH Vice Chair Michael Foor-Pessin.

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Scheduled activities include the OVCS Band and Chorus, who will begin marching through town at 9 a.m.; a cornhole tournament from 1 to 3 p.m.; live music; a Duck Derby at 1 p.m. on the Gorge Creek Bridge; tractor shows, kiddie tractor pulls, and interactive plowing demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday; an open house of the South Otselic Fire Department from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and much more.

One of the event’s biggest draws is the fishing clinics provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Trout Unlimited, which will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 to 3 p.m. at the South Otselic fishing pond.

“The fishing is all interactive. We want kids to come out and we have poles, we have tackle for them, we have the bait, the DEC has stocked the ponds. I mean, we’re ready to go,” said Foor-Pessin. “We have instructors who are going to be there, they’re going to teach kids how to fish. Those kids that already know how to fish, they can just have a good time catching fish.”

He added that the fishing clinics are for all ages, and he encourages families to come down to the pond to enjoy a fun outdoor activity together.

“It's all about families and there’s such a great feeling,” he said. “You see families there that are fathers with their kids, and families fishing. That’s good stuff. We have so many problems economically, stresses on families. It’s nice to give families an opportunity to go do something that’s free, that may get them outside, and actually working together as a family. And hopefully they’ll continue to do that.”

Food-Pessin said another great activity for both children and adults is the painting workshop that will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. at the State Fish Hatchery and hosted by local artist Adam Schmidt. All supplies will be provided by the OVFH Association.

“In conjunction with the art teachers at the school, he’s going to be doing a painting demonstration that’s highly interactive, for up to two sessions of 30 kids and adults,” Foor-Pessin explained. “They’re going to be painting landscapes of the valley and there’s a fantasy of creatures that live in the valley, in the river. So that should be pretty exciting, and that’s the first time that was done through a grant.”

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“The painting I’m really excited about, because I think having the kids paint landscapes and then imaginative beasts that come from the river, I just think all of that is really healthy,” he added. “Because they’re actually looking at the environment, now how do I translate that to this paper? That’s pretty cool.”

Those looking to get out in nature can sign up for Billy’s Walk, a guided hike beginning at 8:45 a.m., where attendees will learn about the life and death of Grace “Billy” Brown. That evening there will be a discussion of the book “Shedding More Light on an American Tragedy: Grace Brown’s Story Reimagined,” from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the United Methodist Church.

“We’re going to examine that very very famous murder case, and then what I’m most interested in is, what is the ramifications of Grace’s murder for us in Chenango County?” said Foor-Pessin. “We’ll be talking about the rates of poverty and the effects of poverty on violence against women, we’re going to be talking about those types of issues that are still facing women in Chenango County.”

More information on the scheduled activities and registration can be found at

The Fishing and Heritage Day is organized by approximately a dozen OVFH members, as well as countless volunteers. Funding for this year’s festival is provided by three major sponsors: Gladding Braided Products, the New York State DEC, and NBT Bank.

This program is also made possible with public funds administered by the Earlville Opera House, and by the New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA) with support from Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS legislature.

Dozens of local businesses have also shown their support through sponsorship of the event and prize donations.

Those interested in volunteering, donating, or joining the Otselic Valley Fishing and Heritage Association can do so on their website, Food-Pessin said the organization is always looking for volunteers, and becoming a member is completely free.

The Otselic Valley Fishing and Heritage Day is sure to be a fun, educational experience for all ages. Food-Pessin emphasized the importance of appreciating the environment, and said the festival will have something for everyone to enjoy.

“There’s a lot going on, for people who just want to fish, who want to paint, to people who just want to go antiquing, to people who just want to eat food and listen to music, to people who want a more serious discussion of books. There’s a whole lot to do,” he said.

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“I just think it’s really important that we celebrate the Otselic River and the environment and understand that this area has a bright future, that people shouldn’t be discouraged, and we have our greatest resources: people and an incredible environment.”