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Massena makes financial contribution to upcoming Bassmaster tournament

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MASSENA - The Massena Town Council has approved a $1,000 donation to support an upcoming fishing tournament in Waddington, and they’re challenging other towns and villages to also financially support the endeavor.

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray suggested during this week’s board meeting that they make the donation from the town’s supervisor contractual funds, and councilmen were unanimous in approving his request.

The Bass Anglers Sportsman’s Society Bassmaster Elite Series: St. Lawrence River Showdown will be held from Aug. 8 to 11 in Waddington. It will bring the world’s top 102 bass anglers and their families, fishing enthusiasts and television production crews to Waddington’s St. Lawrence riverfront.

But, Mr. Gray said, the economic ripple will be felt far beyond Waddington with the number of people who could be in the area for the tournament.

“There was one just held in a small town in Texas. It was about 15,000, about the size of Massena. Over the course of the tournament, four days, 34,000 people visited this town for this tournament. So there will be a huge impact,” Mr. Gray said.

“Obviously Waddington can’t handle all these people. I’m not sure St. Lawrence County can handle all these people. All the surrounding towns anywhere close by are going to be impacted,” he said.

The Quality Inn in Massena, for instance, will serve as the home base for media covering the event.

Mr. Gray said that, now that the town has made a financial commitment, he’s challenging other municipalities to do the same.

He said towns and villages like Canton, Potsdam, Brasher and Louisville will all likely be impacted by the influx of visitors to the region.

“I think within probably a 60-mile radius,” he said. “I would hope other towns would take our challenge and join in our commitment. Waddington obviously went out on a limb and said we’ll host it.”

Waddington will be one of only eight sites to host the tournament, and Mr. Gray said they expect a boost in visitors.

“Don Meissner and FISHCAP were able to set the hook to get them here. They looked at Ogdensburg, they looked at Massena and they settled on Waddington,” he said.

“People liken it to a NASCAR event,” he said, noting that a town in New Hampshire that holds NASCAR races is “swamped that weekend.”

FISHCAP, the local initiative that markets the St. Lawrence River Valley as the “fishing capital of the world,”has also donated $10,000 to the village of Waddington for use in promoting the tournament.

Their hope, members of the FISHCAP Advisory Board said, was that the gift could spawn matching corporate or private donations.

FISHCAP joined other local donors including the Quality Inn of Massena, the Waddington Chamber of Commerce, Commercial Press, Inc . and North Country Savings Bank “in acknowledging the positive economic ramifications this event will have on St. Lawrence County,”Event Coordinator Deanna Shampine said.

Running concurrently with the fishing event is a “Tastes and Talents of the North Country” festival. Admission to everything happening during the four days - from weigh-in ceremonies to special entertainment - is free.

For more information on donation or sponsorship opportunities, contact Fundraising Committee Chair Bill Hosmer at 315-323-6037.

For general information on the event or to volunteer, email StLawrenceRiverShowdown@gmail.com or call Deanna Shampine at 315-323-7431.

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