Bullet dodged

Teetering on life support, the plug would have been pulled on the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship last Thursday night had not local resident Gord Watson stepped forward to take over as chairman for the 2011 tournament.
Calling himself an “avid fisherman,” but having no direct affiliation with the FFCBC previously, Mr. Watson showed tremendous community spirit by agreeing to take over the reins when no one else appeared willing to do so. And coupled with others who volunteered to sit as directors, namely Brian Gustafson, Mike Maxton, and Aurora Doerksen, an event that’s been the linchpin of summer in Fort Frances for the past 16 years will live to see another day.
With planning well behind schedule, the new board faces a daunting task in getting everything ready for next July. But to his credit, Mr. Watson seems to have hit the ground running, conveying a real enthusiasm for finding ways to revive the buzz around the flagging tournament.
Just what the 17th-annual FFCBC will look like remains to be seen, although it’s already clear things will be scaled back. There’s talk “Daytime Land” will be scrapped, and that big-name acts won’t be brought in for the night-time entertainment given the disappointing crowds of late.
And there lies the real crux of the problem. Although the tournament can’t survive without volunteers to organize and stage it year after year, it also needs local residents showing their support by attending the weigh-ins and concerts. As outgoing chairman Tom Fry put it, “If we don’t get the spectators out, we don’t generate the income to make this thing viable.”
It’s as simple as that.
If the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship is to retain its “festival” atmosphere, it will take the whole community—not just the board of directors—to make it so.
The FFCBC dodged a bullet last week, but whether it’s out of the woods rests in all our hands come July.