BY LEW HASTINGS – Tarpon Fishing. For some it’s an old family tradition, one that goes back generations. The World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament has become a tradition in its own right. In various iterations over the past 33 years, the tournament has become known both locally and by participants from around the world as “The Big Tournament.” It is deserving of such a grand moniker.
The tournament drives competitors, their families and their dollars to our local economy, and the investment in our community and our precious resource is not squandered. An educational magazine has been produced by the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce for the last few years that has made its way to top academics in the field of marine science, our own state’s conservation watchdogs and even to lawmakers in our nation’s capital.
The associated Tarpon Festival weekend is a family-friendly event complete with art, music and great food that brings people from neighboring towns, and indeed is becoming a destination activity weekend vacation for many people across the country.
The particulars of the events can be found at worldsrichesttarpon.com but there are some important dates and times everyone should know.
First, remember that Park Avenue will be closed from Hudson’s grocery to 3rd Street, and 4th Street will be closed from East Railroad to Gilchrist Avenue. Do not park on those streets from Friday, June 5 at 5 a.m. to Saturday, June 6 at 11 p.m., so we can set up the festival.
The King of the Beach Division Tournament will be held from 6 a.m. to Noon on Thursday, June 4 and Friday, June 5.
The Pass Division Tournament will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 4 and Friday, June 5.
The captain’s party for both divisions will be held at Boca Grande Marina on Wednesday, June 3 from 6 to 8 p.m.
The street festival will be free to all and will open to the public at 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Food and beverages will be available. Live Music will start at 1:30 p.m. and end by 9 p.m.
World-renowned artist and marine biologist Guy Harvey will be at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce tent in downtown Boca Grande on Friday, June 5 from 1 to 3 p.m. to take pictures and sign posters.
Local artist and Ladies Day favorite Brendan Coudal will be appearing at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce tent to sign his latest masterpiece “Bubbly Mermaid” on Friday, June 5 from noon to 4 p.m.
As always the tournament collectible art posters are all limited edition, and once they’re gone they are gone. We will not reprint any poster art or generate new merchandise based upon that year’s design.
We will have posters, shirts and other tournament memorabilia at the festival as long as supplies last. You can always purchase these items at the Chamber now, before the festival, if you want to make sure you don’t miss out.
Remember – have fun, make memories and most of all make this event your new family tradition.