Independence Day traditions have been growing in Dublin since 1968.

Independence Day traditions have been growing in Dublin since 1968.

A few Fourth of July festivities have varied over the years, but many of the activities people enjoy today have a long history.

The Sherm Sheldon Fishing Derby that starts Independence Day festivities at 8 a.m. is in its 25th year.

Barb Burkholder has been organizing the fishing derby for 21 years, a responsibility she inherited when she joined the city staff. The derby usually draws about 100 people, although weather affects attendance.

The event was named after Dublin's first village manager, who was hired in 1972. Sheldon also served on Dublin Village Council from 1962-68, the city said.

Burkholder said Sheldon was a fisherman.

"It is an intergenerational activity," she said of the fishing derby. "They bring their own fishing poles and bait."

Marlaine Manus, who worked in Dublin's Parks and Recreation Department when the fishing derby began, said it came about because of Sheldon's retirement.

"Sherm had retired so it was to honor him," she said.

The city awards the longest fish pulled from the Dublin Community Recreation Center's pond, which is stocked annually by parks and recreation staff, Burkholder said.

"Kids just loved this little derby," Manus said.

The fishing derby hasn't always been held in the shadow of the recreation center. Burkholder said it originated at a natural pond by the Coffman House.

"There was a natural pond there and it had been there forever," she said. "Because (the city) built the bridge, they had to drain the pond."

Manus said the pond was much smaller than the one currently used for the derby.

"It was a little farm pond," she said. "In fact, I wish I had the article that was in the 'Villager.' My son was in the derby and he fought and fought for this monster catfish we thought was at the bottom of the pond."

The "monster catfish" never materialized, but Manus said the article chronicled the battle her son, now 32, fought against the fish as a child.

When the Coffman pond was drained to make way for development, fish and other pond-dwellers were moved to the pond at the recreation center, Burkholder said.

The year the pond at the Coffman House was drained, the fishing derby was held at the retention pond at the Dublin police station.