BY MARCY SHORTUSE - The “big three” of Boca Grande tarpon tournaments will be held next weekend, May 17 through May 20, and it promises to be a weekend you’ll never forget. This year marks the renewal of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce’s World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, the second year of the biggest children’s tarpon tournament, and a date change for the Chamber’s Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament.
Events will be begin Wednesday night, May 16, with the World’s Richest captain’s party and reading of the rules. So far, 31 boats have signed up for the tournament and more entries are coming in.
Team registration and check-in will be Wednesday, May 16 at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce office between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. A captain or team leader may send a representative in their place to register and pick up the team bag. At the time of registration, the name and contact information of the official observer assigned to each vessel for the competition will also be given.
The captain and team-leader reception will also be held on Wednesday at the Boca Bay Pass Club from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. with passed food from 7 to 9 p.m. There will be a cash bar, raffles and an opportunity to buy additional WRTT gear.
The Calusa Queen will depart from Boca Grande Marina just prior to the World’s Richest, and will take passengers out to view the tournament. They will position the Calusa Queen so that passengers can observe the competition from a safe distance that ensures the integrity of the fishing tournament. All passengers are encouraged to bring binoculars.
The cost is $20 for adults, $15 for children 17 and under. Children under 4 may board the boat for free. For more information on booking passage, call (941) 301-8687.Fishing will begin in the Boca Grande Pass and surrounding waters on Thursday, May 17 from 3 to 7 p.m. No events are planned for that evening.
On Friday, May 18 fishing will also take place from 3 to 7 p.m. in the pass.
After the fishing is done, the awards party will be held in downtown Boca Grande. The party kicks off at 8:30 p.m.
Saturday morning will begin the first annual Tarpon Festival, held by the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., downtown. There will be games for the kids from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., along with an aquarium and exhibit by Mote Marine Laboratory.
At the same time, Carroll Swayze’s Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival will be held in Boca Grande. Featured on the agenda are 65 of the best marine artists and craftsmen.
Music-recording artist Colton James will be among the Chamber’s special musical guests for the festival. Colton has also written the theme song for the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation titled “Save it for the Kids” which he will perform Saturday evening in downtown Boca Grande, after the Gasparilla Island Kid’s Classic.
The Boca Grande Community Center auditorium will be running a series of movies from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., all related to fishing in the waters that surround Gasparilla Island.
At 4:30 p.m., the fishing resumes with the Second Annual Gasparilla Island Kid’s Classic. Fishing ends at 7:30 p.m., and the awards party starts at 8:30 p.m. in downtown Boca Grande. So far, there are a full field of 26 boats for the Gasparilla Island Kid’s Classic.
Final registration for Ladies Day teams will be Wednesday, May 16 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The captain or a team leader or a representative can register, but all teams are asked to have all paperwork in and registration fees on that day.
On Sunday May 20, the Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament rules and regulations brunch begins at 11 a.m. at the Eagle Grille and Miller’s Dockside.
The Tarpon Festival and Carroll Swayze’s Boca Grande Invitational Art Festival continue downtown from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
At 3 p.m., the Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament begins in the waters of Boca Grande Pass. The tournament wraps up at 7 p.m., followed by an after party at 8:30 p.m. at South Beach Bar and Grille.
Ladies Day shirts and posters, as well as 2012 World’s Richest posters have arrived at the Chamber office and will be on sale for $20. Also, the World’s Richest long-sleeved performance fishing shirts from Guy Harvey are here. They are $45 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL, and XXL. World’s Richest programs are available as well for $5 each.
These items will also be available at the Tarpon Festival.
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