ATHENS – The East Texas family tradition continues October 28 when “Halloween at the Hatchery” returns to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center after being cancelled in 2020 due to the public health crisis. The annual event provides a safe place to go trick-or-treating while raising money for three local beneficiaries, The Rainbow Room, East Texas Crisis Center and the Athens High School Fishing Team.
The outdoor event will feature family-friendly games, photo opportunities, and activities Thursday, Oct. 28, from 6 — 8 p.m. Local businesses and organizations will hand out free candy from booths positioned around TFFC’s recreational fishing ponds and trails.
“We’re certainly excited to be able to once again host this family friendly fall event here at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center,” said Tom Lang TFFC Director. “October in the outdoors, smiling kids making great memories, and everyone coming together to help area non-profits to serve the community, that’s a great combination in my book.”
Admission for Halloween at the Hatchery is only $1 cash per person, and all proceeds will benefit the aforementioned local nonprofit organizations.
Trick-or-treaters can enter the event from three areas including the Visitor Center entrance, the bus and trailer parking lot gate, and the overflow parking lot gate. The overflow parking lot is close to the Angler’s Pavilion and is located on Peninsula Point Road.
On the day of the event, the TFFC will be open during normal business hours from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will reopen at 6 p.m. for this special event. No one will be admitted between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., and no pets are allowed. Minors must be accompanied by an adult.
“We’re thrilled and grateful for the high level of community support,” Lang said.
Event support comes from vendors including Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Acme Brick Company, Allen Family Dentistry, Athens Screen Printing, Athens Tractor and Equipment, Buddy’s Home Furnishings, City of Athens, Heaton Eye Associates, Henderson County 4H, Holiday Inn Express, Island Tans and Gift Boutique, Roberts Roofing and Construction, Texas Insurance Agency, Topline Visions, Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative, UT Health Athens, VeraBank, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7103, and World Finance Loan and Tax Service.
Businesses or organizations interested in reserving a booth for the event can contact Kate Barkalow at (940) 839-4331.
The TFFC is located in Athens and includes a working fish hatchery, numerous aquariums focusing on underwater wildlife in the state’s freshwaters and is home to the Toyota ShareLunker program, which invites anglers to donate 13-pound-plus-sized largemouth bass for research and breeding purposes. The TFFC also houses the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame which honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to freshwater fishing in Texas.
The Texas Game Warden museum, where visitors can learn about the history and current TPWD game warden operations, is also located at the TFFC. In addition, the TFFC also facilitates the annual Fish Art Contest in Texas which is part of a conservation education program designed to spark the imaginations of students while providing valuable lessons about fish and the importance of conserving Texas’ aquatic resources.
Current operating hours at the TFFC are Wednesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Guests are encouraged to wear masks, maintain appropriate social distances from others outside their party, use hand sanitizer and wash their hands regularly.