In 1994 Janice and I purchased an offshore fishing boat (Proline) from Miller’s Boating Center, which began our love for fishing in Crystal River, Fl. The following year we decided to put a fishing tournament on at The Plantation Inn for area law enforcement officer’s. The first event had just nine boats entered and lots to give away. Back then I would go to vendor’s and local store’s for donations.
After a couple of years, the tournament grew, some of the local firemen wanted to participate therefore the decision was made to open the event to anyone and everyone, except for guides. As it is now, everyone that entered got a t-shirt which listed sponsors and there was plenty of prizes to give away. The tournament grew to over 150 boats at around years 10 to 15 and it was the biggest party weekend at The Plantation for the year. People would come to the tournament to party and not even enter. During “the good year’s” the tournament within a tournament (Calcutta) got somewhat out of hand with the teams being auctioned off. The purse got to be over $50,000.00 and I would spend thousands of dollars on prizes. No longer did I go to stores and ask for donations because of the wasted time and little return that it produced.
It was during that time that the profits of the Tournament were very large, due to the fact that it has always been included on our tax returns, we could not let it make a profit so each year the profits were presented to mainly local 501c3’s. Arnette House and ARC have for years benefitted for proceeds, now we also include Penny’s for Faith and Helping Hands. Other’s that have seen donations are Interfaith, Kimberly’s Cottage, Kiwanis Club and others. One year $20,000.00 was given to Take Stock in Children in Marion County.
Over the years there have been loyal fishermen and women that have entered every year. We have seen the passing of many and the economy has surely affected many others, however this year, the 20th, is expected to be one of our biggest, in part due to the return on one of our recent donations. FLEOST won a 2014 Harley Davidson (ARC event) which was exchanged for the cost of the bike ($15,000.00) going to FLEOST. That money will be added to what is already spent on the event. The expenses, as you can imagine are high, except for Oakley and Crown Royal products along with the donations for sponsorship money, we purchase all of the items given away each year and over 400 shirts, however I expect the purse and prizes to be over $40,000.00.
We will keep our fingers crossed for good weather, please feel free to pass the word on to other new boat owner’s and friends. We have already picked up a couple of new sponsors and we would love to have more. I can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-572-0914. In closing “THANKS” to our continued Sponsors.
Leo & Janice Smith (and our helper’s, who we couldn’t do without)