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South Central USA
Why is it not a surprise that Duane is telling a fish story?
Texas does it BIG!

How to Sponsor a Fish Sale, Texas Style

by Duane Eaton, San Antonio, Texas

When it comes to sponsoring a special event like a fish sale, the Texas Koi & Fancy Goldfish Society (TK&FGS) knows how to put on an event -- and only as it can be done in Texas. The first Fish Sale was held ten years ago in humble beginnings of a club member's back yard. From there it moved to its current location at Water Garden Gems (WGG), located along Interstate 10 east of San Antonio, Texas. The two-day event has evolved into the largest of its kind in south Texas. And maybe even beyond.

TK&FGS invites two prominent Japanese koi breeders to accompany many hundreds of their prized show-quality koi for the exciting sale. They specially quarantine the selected koi before leaving Japan to guard against disease (including KHV--koi herpes virus) traveling with them. Months before the event, club members submit special orders that the breeders endeavor to match and bring for the pre-ordering members.

In addition, a koi breeder in Poteet, Texas, south of San Antonio, offers a great selection of long-fin koi at the sale, and a Louisiana goldfish breeder provides an amazing assortment of fancy goldfish for water garden fans.

The week of the event, TK&FGS members gather at WGG to set up the necessary tanks. They install water and oxygen lines to all of the tanks to help keep the aquatic residents healthy. On Friday, the breeders and their fish arrive from Japan, Louisiana, and south Texas.

Sorted according to size and price, colorful koi swim happily in their temporary quarters. Prices range from $20 for small baby koi to many hundreds of dollars commanded by more mature fish. Goldfish reside in one large tank. 

WGJ employees set up tents for an assortment of arts and crafts vendors and various food vendors, with home cooked bar-b-que being a favorite choice. Although everyone enjoys the open-sided tents, sometimes the weather requires the use of side panels. Talented local musicians entertain Saturday's crowd. 

Besides the fish sale, informative seminars attract attendees all day Saturday and Sunday. Speakers, including the Japanese breeders, cover various topics benefiting beginners and experienced koi owners. The Japanese breeders even participate. This year's program included:

How to Select the Best Baby Koi for Your Budget -- Ray Jordan of TK&FGS
Bead Filter Design -- Burt Nichols of WGG
Pond Design/Construction -- Raymond Longstreath of WGG
Springtime Pond Maintenance -- Kris Jilek of Krystal Klear Ponds
Koi Breeding Techniques and Judging Koi -- Megumi Yoshida and Yohei Nagasaki
Traveling to Japan to Buy Koi and Other Stuff -- Ray Jordan of TK&FGS 
TK&FGS members coordinate the fish sale while WGG adds pizzazz to the event. An arts and crafts show, added two years ago, has quickly grown into a very popular side event. Vendors sell fused glass jewelry, stained glass items, pond-related ceramic items, home and garden décor, among many others.  
Crafts people bring handmade wood products such as bird houses, bird feeders, benches, water features, and much more. Small scale plant growers sell their specialty crops. From plants for the landscape to delicate indoor plants, garden enthusiasts find something to fit their needs. Lots of goodies! 

Two years ago a blood drive became part of the event, and became so popular that the local blood bank sent two mobile blood collection buses to accommodate this year's donors. Other blood drives give a free t-shirt to the donors, but not this one. Oh no! Nothing so ordinary as that! Everybody who gives blood receives a free whiskey barrel water garden complete with a whiskey barrel, one waterlily, one bog plant, one oxygenating plant, and two goldfish. All the donor has to do is go home and add water. 

Dedicated WGG employees spend an incredible amount of time preparing for this big weekend. From traveling all over south Texas in pursuit of arts and craft vendors to getting the two-acre property in perfect shape, this event requires a lot of hard work. The extra large crowds that turn out are always welcomed like it was a regular business day with a fraction of the customers in attendance.

For the last two festivals Japan-America Society of San Antonio members participated in the seminars, sold delicious Japanese food, and presented stage shows of various Japanese dance or drum performances. Last year they presented an incredibly impressive Japanese Tea Ceremony seminar and demonstration. Sadly, this year they only operated a tent featuring your name being written in Japanese and Origami--delicate hand-folded paper craft items.

The Twelfth Annual Fish Sale was held the first weekend of April. Plans are being developed for next year's event. 

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