Most towns wouldn’t want to be famous for their flies, but the Village of Kingsley is so proud of theirs that they are hosting a festival to celebrate.
That’s because this isn’t a housefly or a deerfly, but the Adams, the most famous and important fly among trout fishermen in North America.
The Adams Fly Festival will take place Saturday, June 2 from noon to 5 p.m. on the grounds of the Kingsley Public Library. The inaugural festival will pay homage to the Adams, celebrate the region’s fly-fishing heritage, and feature an afternoon of entertainment, a microbrew tent, food and more.
GENESIS OF THE FLY
The Adams was conceived in Mayfield, just north of Kingsley, by Len Halladay during the summer of 1922. Halladay along with his wife ran the Mayfield Hotel, providing rooms to lumberjacks and tourists.
In his spare time Halladay was known as an accomplished hunter and fly fisherman and his fly-tying skills were legendary in the region. He was a popular fly fishing guide as well.
One of Halladay’s regular patrons was Judge Charles F. Adams. Legend has it that one afternoon Adams asked Halladay to tie a fly pattern that would be successful on the Boardman River that evening.
The next morning Adams came back and told Halladay that the fly pattern was a “knock-out.” When asked the name, Halladay decided to call the fly an Adams in honor of the judge who enjoyed success the first time the fly was used.
“Now the Adams has become the go-to fly. It is the granddaddy of all fly patterns,” said Adam Umbrasas, village manager of Kingsley and one of the festival organizers. “Anyone who fly fishes knows that when all else fails you put on an Adams or a Parachute Adams. There is a lot of history associated with the Adams.”
Even Ernest Hemingway referenced the Adams in some of his writings. The legendary author used the Adams himself when he went fly-fishing. Hemingway even visited the Kingsley region (prior to the Adams being developed) a few times as a teenager, fly-fishing and camping along the Boardman River, noting his success in one of his journal entries.
SMALL TOWN, BIG CHARMS
For many people, Kingsley is little more than a place to drive through to get to somewhere else. But Umbrasas believes that this festival will showcase Kingsley’s sometimes hidden gems.
have a little-known secret that we wish more people knew about, a
60-acre park called Civic Center South,” said Umbrasas. “The park
features an 18-hole disc golf course, basketball and tennis courts,
softball and baseball fields, and an archery range. We plan to add more
disc golf and ball fields to the park in the near future. We also have
Brownson Memorial Park, home of the Village Splash Pad, and play- ground
area for kids.”
Another attraction Umbrasas points to is the Kinglsey Club, which continues to be ranked among the top golf courses in the world. The golf course is currently ranked #74 in the world by Planet Golf World Rankings and #23 in the U.S. by Golfweek Magazine.
“I didn’t even know
about the Kingsley Club when I took the job here five years ago,” said
Umbrasas. “Just after I started working here a friend of mine who works
for the PGA
called me to tell me that we have one of the top golf courses in the
country here.” The efforts of several dedicated community members under
Umbrasas’s lead- ership have given Kingsley a facelift in recent years.
“We have done a lot to beautify down- town Kingsley with a streetscape project,” said Umbrasas. “Plus the bandshell and green space right downtown that was com- pleted last year, that now hosts the Friday night Farmers Market and concerts.”
In addition to all the community improvements, Kingsley has a strong school system, making the village appealing to many and bringing with it a growing population. Kingsley does have a master plan to protect its small town charm.
“We would like to fill some vacant lots in downtown with a variety of essential businesses and add to what is already a nice walkable downtown,” said Umbrasas. “Our master plan focuses on smart growth so we continue to provide what residents like, a small town atmosphere and quality of life.”
Umbrasas and other organizers hope that the Adams Fly Festival will bring increased awareness to Kingsley.
“We have an annual heritage day geared more towards those who live here, but we do not have that signature festival like other communities,” said Umbrasas.
“So the Adams is something specific to us. This festival is something that we can be branded for and known for and we are hopeful that this will attract visitors to Kingsley from all over.”
The Adams Fly Festival is familyfriendly and will have several attractions.
“One of the originals, if not the original Adams, will be on display at the Kingsley Public Library. It was given to us by the great granddaughter of Len Halladay,” said Umbrasas.
“We are also going to have people on site, tying Adams and other types of flies.”
One of the most famous fly rod makers in the world lives near Kingsley and will be on hand as well.
“Bob Summers will be raffling of one of his world famous rods. Trying to buy one of his hand-crafted fly rods is virtually impossible. He is donating the proceeds to the library,” said Umbrasas.
“Orvis and Northern Angler will be on hand giving demonstrations and opportunities for people who want to learn the sport. It is great to see so many influential people getting behind this event.”
The afternoon event will include live musical entertainment, a microbrew beer tent, and food. Plus a few experts will be onsite from the dam removal project to discuss how the river will look after the project is completed.
The Adams fly and hundreds of other flies will be on display in the library.
Also on display will be handmade canoes. There will also be a live and silent auction, plus various activities for kids.
And for the most part, the fun and festivities are free.
“We are not charging for the Adams Fly Festival, though there is a charge to get into the microbrew tent where you will get one of the collectable Adams pint glasses,” said Umbrasas. “Of course, this is a fundraiser for the Kingsley Library so we want people to buy auction items and raffle tickets and enjoy a few pints.
And Umbrasas is already looking toward a rosy future.
“In the future we look to expand the festival by adding days and events.”
The Adams Fly Festival, hosted by the Kingsley Friends of the Library, takes place Saturday, June 2 from 12-5 p.m. Events will take place at both the Kingsley Branch Library Community Room and Brownson Park. For additional information, go to VillageOfKingsley.com or call 231-263-5484.