The one that got away: St. Lawrence County feels the loss of big fishing tournament

WWNY The one that got away: St. Lawrence County feels the loss of big fishing tournament

WADDINGTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - With Bassmaster’s decision to move this summer’s big fishing tournament from Waddington to Clayton, there is reaction from both communities. In Waddington, business owners are bracing for a financial hit.

Jenna Chamberlain works at JC's River Run in Waddington, a restaurant her parents own. She says the Bassmasters Elite Tournament brings in substantial business every year.

"This is our biggest weekend of the year," she said.

But that won't be coming in 2020. Tournament organizers have moved the event from St. Lawrence County to Clayton in Jefferson County.

"Going through all of this COVID stuff, being shut down for three months, doing takeout only. That was a huge financial loss. So, this is another loss," said Chamberlain.

Chamberlain says she also rents her house out to tournament anglers. While she does charge them, she says the money is secondary to the connections she builds.

"Friendships are definitely more important. The monetary value really isn't something that I was looking for," she said.

Restaurants and lodging aren't the only businesses affected by the tournament's move from Waddington. Owners at Sharlow's say their gas station saw a big bump in business that weekend too."

"In gas, you could almost double it really at times. I mean, boats filling up twice a day," said Charlie Sharlow, co-owner, Sharlow's Service Station.

Sharlow says more staff is typically needed tournament weekend.

"I actually bring in another person to pump gas usually because it's so busy. It just takes away from the people in store, so we just need extra people to keep up with it. Same with the deli, I bring in someone extra for that," he said.

Town of Waddington Supervisor Alex Hammond says Bassmaster Elite Tournaments usually bring in more than $1 million in sales tax to the county.

But, he says that figure could have been smaller this year without spectators.

"Sales tax is distributed based on a formula to all the municipalities in St. Lawrence County. So, whether you're a small town in the Adirondacks like Colton or a small town on the River like Waddington, or a city like Ogdensburg, unfortunately, the sales tax revenue we would have made off this tournament won't be felt this year," he said.

Hammond says, while he’s glad the tournament is staying on the St. Lawrence River in 2020, he wants to roll out the red carpet next year to show organizers why it should stay in Waddington.

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