Come on and join the festival

When the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship got underway Sunday with the Safeway “KidPro” tournament, few people realized how much work already had gone into creating the site and making things happen.
Months before the tournament begins, businesses and organizations are contacted to assist it.
The contacts, often done in personal visits by directors, are for requests for donations either in the way of services or cash (sponsors may feel more comfortable in providing products or services to the tournament instead of financial support).
Donations are all welcomed by the tournament. Shimano, for instance, will donate its live-release boat, as will Lund-Mercury.
The Shimano boat is located in Winnipeg, and must be picked up and transported to Fort Frances. Often a volunteer with a very big truck will make that trip.
Lund, meanwhile, makes their own arrangements to get their live-release boat here.
The City of Kenora lends the bleachers under the big tent to Fort Frances. Darryl Eyolfson travels there to pick them up and then return them afterwards.
In some cases, the difference between the cost and the normal price of services and products is donated to the tournament. That way, the businesses costs are covered by their donation—but at a greatly reduced price to the FFCBC.
Letters are sent out very early to major sponsors such as AbitibiBowater and the Town of Fort Frances, outlining what the tournament hopes to be able to receive from them. Meetings are held between them and agreements are reached.
All of this takes time.
This year has been a real struggle for the bass tournament. Because of the downswing in the economy, some sponsors no longer are able to make a financial contribution while some have ceased to operate.
Other businesses, because of reductions in staff and downsizing, have not been able to commit their services and the time of some of their employees to the tournament that they have in previous years.
Other fishing tournaments in North America are facing similar challenges.
This year’s FFCBC has many new exciting attractions marking its 15th year. The huge 40-foot fish aquarium is returning, and will have two presenters doing shows for the three full days of the tournament.
The aquarium will be stocked with species of fish common to Rainy River District.
Rainy River First Nations has agreed to bring in a couple of sturgeon so that spectators will be able to see what this ancient fish looks like.
Anglers, meanwhile, will be asked to bring in walleye, northern, crappie, bass, and perch this afternoon (July 22) to stock the tank.
Then tonight at 10 p.m., a huge fireworks show will explode over the river at the tent site.
Michelle Cain has worked hard to bring additional attractions to “Daytime Land,” including fun climbing wall that will challenge young people.
It will be added to the inflatables that have been on site for the past several years.
To keep the FFCBC alive and refreshed, spectators this year are being asked to pay a voluntary admission fee of $2 for the daytime activities. They also can enter draws to win attendance prizes each day.
Tom Fry and his board of directors have worked hard to make this tournament successful. It is a week to celebrate Fort Frances and district.
Come join the festival!

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