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Bassmaster employee Mike Bertas works on one of two live release boats Tuesday, in front of the main stage set up in Whittaker Park in Waddington. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

Waddington — It’s all about the fish when the 2019 Berkley Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River launches at Whittaker park Thursday, but you don’t have to have a line in the water to enjoy the most popular bass fishing event in the country.

Planning for this week began last year when Waddington Mayor Janet Otto-Cassada stood on the Bassmaster stage and signed the contract that would bring the tournament back to the village for next three years.

“This was a combined effort by the village, St. Lawrence County and New York State to promote tourism,” Mayor Otto-Cassada said as she signed the contract.

“We are thrilled to be returning to Waddington for the next few years,” said BASS CEO Bruce Akin. “Waddington ranks as the most popular venue in Elite Series history, drawing more than 34,000 bass fishing fans when we visited there in 2013.”

The Bassmaster advance crew is already in town. The stage has been set up in Whittaker Park and anglers have started to arrive.

The “elite” in the name of the tournament means that each of the 50 anglers who will launch each morning at 9 a.m. have qualified for the series through the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Opens or the B.A.S.S. Nation. Anglers who are already on the Elite Series must requalify each year by maintaining enough points throughout the season.

For those who must remain on shore there is plenty to do.

The Family Summer Festival goes on each day in the park from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with a DJ, vendors, food and beverages, bounce houses, a rockwall, crafts, a Fort Drum static display and more.

On Friday, the band stage will feature Tink Bennett & Tailor Made Band, Burn the Evidence and Six Foot Midgets.

Saturday entertainment includes an antique motorcycle show, music by The Shoes, a doo wop group; Divided Roads, a country band and David Nichols & Atkinson’s Family, who play bluegrass.

Saturday night is capped off with fireworks from Adirondack Energy.

On Sunday, music will be from Shawn Stoddard and the Back Water Blues Band and the

Josh Barkley Band.

All day Saturday and Sunday, Bassmasters will offer boat rides and product demos.

The final weigh-in begins at 5 p.m. Sunday with a special guest.

Entry to the Bassmasters and Family Fun Festival is free.

For a complete schedule and more information, visit Bassmaster.com.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment

Mud Duck

It would be great if we had a Bass Pro/Cabelas shop in the area. There are several places vacant that would support a store such as this.

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