- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Tweet

WADDINGTON — Until Sunday, the village will be home to pro anglers, fishing fans, vendors and musicians, who already are trickling into town for good weather, good fishing and big entertainment with a small-town feel.

The attractions are all part of the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite Series, which begins at 11 a.m. Thursday in Whitaker Park, according to event coordinator Robert J. Giordano.

Mr. Giordano said vendor spots are sold out this year with more than 80, who will set up Wednesday to take part in the “Party in the Park” festivities.

He said food vendors will offer everything from pizza and burritos from Steve’s Stop N Shop to beer and wine slushies in a beer tent hosted by J.C.’s River Run Bar & Grill. Other vendors also will showcase north country products and clothing.

“Pretty much anything you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find,” he said.

Courtesy of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, fishing fans can try out a fishing simulator where they can battle marlin, bass and sailfish, or view St. Lawrence River fish up close at the “Hawg Trough,” an 18-wheeler-sized aquarium sponsored by Walmart, Massena.

Chainsaw artist Terry L. McKendree, of Buck Ridge Chainsaw Carving, DeKalb Junction, will make an appearance, doing live carvings of animals. His carving of a bass, which will be signed by the series champion, will be raffled off Sunday to benefit Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures, Massena.

For the more active crowd, there will be bungee jumping, platform diving and a large bounce house area for children.

Visitors interested in seeing the sights can take advantage of free horse-drawn carriage rides through the village, free high performance boat rides with pro anglers, or helicopter rides along the river for $50 per person.

The event also will include national music acts Saturday and Sunday, including Keith Anderson, Kristen Kelly, Chris Taylor & the Custom Taylor Band, and tribute bands Eliminator KC and Little Paradise. Ten bands will also play for free.

National acts will be available for a $10 online charge or $15 at the gate, but will be free to all veterans, their immediate families and children younger than 16.

Money collected from national-act performances will go toward funding Bassmaster events next year.

All series activities are open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday

Mr. Giordano said the series has gotten more attention since 2013, drawing vendors and visitors from outside the state, and getting more than 4,600 hits on its Web page and 2,000 hits per month on its Facebook page. He said it also has attracted three more national sponsors for a total of 20, as well as 14 more anglers for a total of 113.

“We’re going to have a great family festival with great music, great fishing,” Mr. Giordano said. “It’s important for the north country. If we can get people to come down here and spend a little money, we can guarantee the future of these events coming back here.”

Anglers coming in from series practice Monday, such as Skeet Reese of California, were saying the same, highlighting the climate in particular.

“Because everything gets frozen in in the wintertime, the fishing season is so short, it tends to make better fishing,” he said, also calling the relief from high temperatures and humidity of Southern states a plus. “I think that’s why people come up here this time of year.”

Kansas angler Brent Chapman also was appreciating the weather, as well as the small-town atmosphere.

“I enjoy coming to small towns, and Waddington is definitely a small one because the people are usually really good,” he said. “It’s easy to get around, and the weather is a lot cooler than it is at home.”

Arizona angler John E. Murray, who is partial to fishing in clear water, said the diversity of the fish is also a strength.

“You can go catch big largemouths, big smallmouths, for our tournament,” he said. “Plus, you can catch a lot of other creatures too. Walleye, pike, whatever you want.”

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