Carp page proud to carry out his duties

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Kyle Wilkinson is in his third year acting as carp page for Prairie du Chien’s world-renowned Carp Fest and Droppin’ of the Carp festivities. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin

Kyle Wilkinson has attended the annual Droppin’ of the Carp in Prairie du Chien since he was a small boy. So, it only made sense a couple of years ago that he become the very first carp page. As the youngest “member of the royal carp family,” Wilkinson, 17, is the only other diplomat than King and Queen Kenny and Jan Meyer and Carpmaster Shawn Redman to reside over the unique event and its associated Carp Fest.

“I brought up the idea to founder Tom Nelson and he thought it was a good idea,” Wilkinson said. “I asked him why there wasn’t a prince or princess or other royalty and he had me write up a two-page paper stating why I wanted to take on the role.”

2013 was his first official year as carp page. His duties include, of course, attending six or seven hours of the Droppin’ of the Carp itself, where, donning a crown and “No. 1 Carp Page” T-shirt, Wilkinson walks around and poses for pictures and answers questions about the festivities from event-goers. Also, ahead of the event, he helps set up the festive lights, build the bonfire and promote all the fun to people he meets. The night of the drop, he always ends the evening with a little kiss for Lucky—to assure he’s as fortunate as can be in the new year.

“I love being involved with the community,” he stated, “and I think the carp page is a tradition we can pass on once I’m done with high school and college.”

As a junior in high school, Wilkinson, who plans to enter the Army within the next year, understands that, if the being in the service takes him away from the area around New Year’s, he will  willingly relinquish his title. He hopes others will appreciate and enjoy the carp page position as much as he does.

“It’s definitely a great experience,” he said. “Basically, we’re all here to say, ‘Hey, we are putting on this big event and we want people to enjoy it.’ In New York, they have the ball drop; we have the carp drop.

The carp is the most common fish we have in the Mississippi River. Plus, how may people can say they kissed a New Year’s fish?”

“If you’ve never been to the Droppin’ of the Carp, I highly suggest going. It’s something very unique to the area,” he added.

When he’s not supporting Carp Fest or in school, Wilkinson is a member of the Prairie du Chien High School wrestling team, participates in ruck marches, and works at Country Inn and Suites.

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