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    Fun unlimited: Outdoorsmen, actors cast lines for kids’ attention

    Jody Callahan - The Commercial Appeal -

    Daija Harris looked at the slimy worm, then the sharp fishing hook, and was having none of it.

    "We tried. We attempted. It didn't work out," the 17-year-old Overton High student said Sunday afternoon at Shelby Farms.

    Eventually, with the help of her friend (who didn't mind getting her fingers slimy), Harris managed to get the worm on the hook, and the hook in the water.

    Harris was one of more than a hundred people who took part in the Conservation Through Art Family Day, a gathering sponsored by ArtsMemphis and Ducks Unlimited.

    The festival, held every two years, included numerous events that melded outdoors activities with the arts, including fishing, duck calling, retrieving dogs, several performances and activities with the kids.

    And yes, you're not alone if you think this is an odd pairing: guys in camouflage with their hunting dogs, not far from Voices of the South, a local theater group.

    "It's definitely an unlikely partnership," said Susan Schadt, president of ArtsMemphis.

    Still, Schadt sees similarities between the two.

    "Capturing the great outdoors has always been one of the main things in art," she said. "Some of the most important art, photography, sculpture; it's about nature."

    Or, in the words of Barb Gelb with ArtsMemphis: "People who enjoy hunting and fishing also enjoy the opera and ballet."

    Most of those who attended Sunday were just interested in having a little fun.

    Jackie Harbin brought her 3-year-old daughter, Janiyha Boyd, from Whitehaven. The little girl, in her pink outfit, didn't mind holding a cup of wriggly worms while her mom cast into the small lake.

    "I thought she would enjoy this," Harbin said. "She's never done this before."

    The fishing area was clearly the hot spot of the day, particularly for the 75 or so Boy Scouts who came from North Memphis to take part.

    Many of them had never held a fishing rod before.

    "Some of these kids have never seen the peacefulness we take for granted," said Ty Thompson with the local Boy Scouts organization.