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Wed June 10, 2009
FLW Tournament Brings Tourism to Murray
By Angela Hatton
Murray, KY – Lisa Satterwhite is Sales and Market Specialist for the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce. She and several other officials from around the community helped bring the bi-annual fishing tournament to Murray. Satterwhite says it was a relatively easy transition since FLW was already local.
"This event was always in Marshall County, but the FLW Outdoors group wanted to start having the event indoors, the ending event, and there was no place to do that in Marshall County. So a group of us got together and put together a package to talk to FLW about having it here at the RSEC."
This year, Murray State University's Regional Special Events Center will be the site of the major weigh-ins, where anglers bring their largest catches for evaluation and where judges announce the winners. FLW Outdoors organizers also plan giveaways, a country music concert, and kid-friendly activities. Satterwhite describes the tournament finale as an "uplifting trade show." Chamber Executive Director Lance Allison hopes the festive atmosphere will draw a big crowd.
"All of those folks will be here with their families and friends and people that came with em spending money in Murray, and we like that."
Allison says restaurants will be the first local businesses to see an impact in sales from the influx of people, followed closely by hotels.
"And then that will spill over into the other retail sectors. I would anticipate that our businesses will see an uptick in their sales this week due just to the fishermen alone."
Benson Sporting Goods owner Eric Benson says he always sees a small increase in business when a fishing tournament comes through the area. But he says most of the professional anglers already stock the products he carries. Benson credits most of the boost he sees to the wake left by the anglers.
"Those guys are here for obviously, y'know, a week or so. But even after they leave it kind of gets a lot of the local guys get a little bit excited. They see what the lake's capable of. Y'know, spurs a lot of interest."
Professional fishermen enjoy getting out on the water, but say it isn't a vacation. During this tournament three-hundred anglers vie for a hundred-twenty-five thousand dollar cash prize. The hope of seeing big wins is another reason fans will be at the final weigh in at the close of the weekend. Graves County resident and amateur fisherman Andy Dew plans to take his father.
"I'm really glad they got it over here this way, I think it's pretty neat how they're expanding to us and everything and I think it's cool to see."
Many of the fans at a meet and greet before the official tournament kickoff bring their children. (possible Nat sound here of a woman saying "we're turning her into a fisher") Much of the activity over the weekend is focused on kids and families too. While FLW Outdoors builds the next generation of anglers and enthusiasts, officials in Murray are just hoping all the visitors enjoy their stay. Again, Chamber of Commerce Director Lance Allison.
"Maybe this is an opportunity having had it in Murray for the first time for them to say, hey, remember that town Murray? They were real nice and friendly, had a lot of great businesses to go to. Let's just stay there and we can drive to the lake from there."
Allison hopes visitors will become repeat tourists. He's also optimistic FLW Outdoors will utilize Murray again in the years to come.