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Preparations progress for Bassmaster Elite tourney

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WADDINGTON — Organizers are gearing up for one of the largest events to reach the north country in a very long time.

“We know that the Bassmaster Elite is going to be the biggest thing to hit St. Lawrence County in decades,” said Patricia L. McKeown, St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce executive director.

More than 10,000 people are expected to attend the event, including the 102 participating anglers, their families, television crews and Bassmasters Elite staff. Chamber staff members, community leaders, the village of Waddington and volunteers are working to host the Bassmaster Elite Series Evan Williams Bourbon Showdown tournament from Aug. 8 to 11.

The family-friendly event will feature a fireworks display, helicopter rides, bounce houses and a birds-of-prey interactive show featuring live falcons and hawks. A 50-foot mobile fish tank and a trophy sport fishing simulator will travel from Florida courtesy of Blevins Seaway Motors and Cape Air.

For adults, there will be a fishing derby, belt sander races, kayak and canoe rentals and a beer-and-bourbon tent in Whittaker Park.

Anglers will teach their techniques to teens and military veterans.

Musical performances during the tournament range from five local bands to a nationally known country music star.

“We are still working on trying to land a known artist,” said Robert J. Giordano, event coordinator. “We have been in contact with some agents and local contacts so we can narrow it down by Thursday.”

The village of Waddington and tournament planners have designated Aug. 10 as Military Appreciation Day.

An American-Canadian Wounded Warrior Fishing Derby, a performance by the 10th Mountain Division Band and fireworks display will be held.

Invitations have been extended to all Warriors, Battle Buddies and their families from surrounding states to attend the festival, said Mr. Giordano, who also chairs the Wounded Warriors group.

“The main difference from our Bass Elite tournament from others is that we have combined this big festival with it — The Tastes and Talents of the North Country,” Mr. Giordano said. “We want to keep people and families interested from the time the anglers set out at 6:30 a.m. to when they return in the evening.”

Free seminars for businesses on “The Business of Bassmaster” will be held next month in Ogdensburg, Potsdam and Massena.

Businesses can contact the county chamber at 386-4000 to reserve a spot.

“We believe that businesses will be able to capitalize on the hundreds of visitors coming here and seeing what we have to offer,” Mrs. McKeown said.

At least one motel, The Riverview in Waddington, has already felt the impact of the Elite Series.

Owner Jahan Taraporewala said all of the motel’s rooms and cabins are filled for the week of the tournament.

More than a third of the potentially 100 vendor booths planned for the Tastes and Talents of the North Country festival are reserved, said Alison Power, county chamber tourism, marketing and outreach coordinator.

Artists, crafters, food and wine sellers, town and village chambers of commerce and community organizations are especially encouraged to reserve a booth at the festival.

Reservation forms can be downloaded from the county chamber’s website, northcountryguide.com, or obtained by contacting Jo Ann Roberts at the chamber, jroberts@stlawrencecountychamber.org.

“It’s not just a one-time event,” Mr. Giordano said. “We’re working to make this the biggest show they’ve seen so that there will be multiple shows to follow.”

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