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BASSMASTER EXPECTED TO HAVE POSITIVE IMPACT

July 20, 2010

Bassmaster expected to have positive impact
By GRIFFIN PRITCHARD

When promoting Wetumpka and the River Region in the coming months, all elected officials need to do is point to the city’s two appearances on ESPN.

“It helps us a lot getting the exposure that ESPN brings and we are doing everything we can to take advantage of it,” said Barry Mask, executive director of the Elmore County Economic Development Authority. “This is something that has put this area on the map and a lot of people are beginning to take advantage of it.”

For the second year, the cities of Wetumpka and Montgomery will play host to Toyota Trucks Championship Week July 24-31.

“We were very successful last year when we did this and we are very excited about them coming back here this year,” said Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis.

Last year’s event drew nearly 4,000 people to the Wetumpka Civic Center to watch weigh-ins during the inaugural Berkley Powerbaits Trophy Chase.

“We don’t know exactly how it impacts us economically because we don’t have lodging right now. Montgomery benefits from that because they get to house them for two weeks,” said Willis. “We know lodging is just around the corner for us and when we turn that corner, we know events like this will make a tremendous impact on Wetumpka.”

While the anglers weren’t technically sleeping in Wetumpka, they did spend money here.

“Results from last year tell us money was spent here,” said Willis. “People were spending it in restaraunts and at Walmart and Lowes. We know this stirred an interest within the area. Especially when you bring in 3,500-4,000 additional people.”

The 2010 Toyota Trucks Championship Week will kick off with the Ramada Trophy Chase launching out of Bonner’s Point on the Slapout side of Lake Jordan. Weigh-ins will once again be held at the parking lot of the Wetumpka Civic Center.


“This year won’t require that much of us because things are pretty well set and we can just plug it in,” said Willis. “We learned a great deal after last year. We learned to move to the opposite side of the river to come out of Bonner’s. We learned about crowd control and how we handle traffic �” the actual setup will be different this time.”

Willis added that following Sunday’s weigh-in, live entertainment will be set up in front of the Civic Center.

After the two events on Lake Jordan, the competition will shift to the Alabama River as part of the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph where, on the last day of competition, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year will be awarded.

“You cannot buy the kind of promotion that this area is going to get from hosting this event,” said Mont�-gomery Mayor Todd Strange. “We are pleased to be hosting it and pleased to help with the promotion.”

While Montgomery will host the final two events of Championship Week, Wetumpka will be a part of the festivities as Hope for the Warriors, injured veterans that have been paired with the Toyota 12 anglers, will return to “Shoot the Coosa” July 28 (See the July 24-25 Wetumpka Weekend).

“When you couple all of this,” said Mask. “It’s something you can eventually build upon.”

In Elmore County, Willis and Mask both agree that the success anglers have experienced in Wetumpka and on Lake Jordan and to a great extent the Alabama River, has helped shape a new way of promoting this area.

“Welcome to Elmore County: The Fishing Capital of Alabama,” said Mask. “With the three rivers and two lakes, there’s no reason why we couldn’t make that claim.”

Willis agreed with Mask’s proclamation.

“We have launched Wetumpka as a fishing destination,” said Willis. “The Coosa River itself can be the driving force for Wetumpka and can take us places that we’ve only dreamed about in the past. We are beginning to embrace it and open up to the river and its possibilities. From the dragboat races to the watercraft races to the bass tournament to the canoing and kayaking that goes on �” the river could do very big things for Wetumpka.”

Both agree Wetumpka could easily become an outdoor destination spawned from the success of the Bassmaster Elite competitions.

“That’s something that Wetumpka should hang its hat on,” said Mask. “We’ve got to do more to improve the venues and do some more things to promote this area as such, something to bring a crowd in. And that’s something I’ve been talking to the mayor about.”

The success of the Bassmaster Elite Series, which according to Mask will return in 2011, is part of a string of fishing events held throughout the year on local waters.

“We have the Bassmaster Elite, Crappie Masters and other bass fishing tournaments that we need to keep here and help them grow year in and year out,” said Mask.

Griffin Pritchard
The Wetumpka Herald
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