Waddington’s loss of fishing tournament is Clayton’s gain

WWNY Waddington’s loss of fishing tournament is Clayton’s gain

CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - In Clayton, business owners are thrilled to be getting a surprise boost in tourism this summer. The Bassmaster Elite Tournament is going to support the economy in a year when it has been a struggle.

You can feel excitement bubbling in Clayton as folks prepare for the tourism they've been missing out on this summer to arrive with the Bassmaster Elite Tournament.

Jeff Garnsey is the Clayton Chamber of Commerce secretary and a fishing guide.

"It will really breathe a great deal of life into a summer that wasn't the best summer we've had," he said.

Clayton's usual tourist attracting events have all been canceled this year so they have the availability and the financial need to take something like this on.

"Any other time we'd be saying we don't have room for something this big, but right now it's, like, look at this huge void of space, boom, drop Bassmasters in there," said Garnsey.

If Clayton didn't take on the tournament, it wouldn't happen at all. This way the St. Lawrence River still gets national attention and local businesses still benefit.

Local business owners will tell you this year was a double-whammy for tourism, dealing with both the shutdown and heavy construction in the area. They say because of that, they're welcoming the tournament with open arms.

"We're hoping a tournament like this brings more people up, and having more tourism and this attraction will definitely help our business," said Grace Seybert, Karla's Christmas Shoppe employee.

"I think it's great. Any time that we have an increase in tourism is great, so the bass fishermen, we welcome them. And I hope this does help the people that are struggling right now," said Melissa Ringer-Hardy, Bella's owner.

And folks in the area are confident in their ability to host the tournament safely.

"As long as they're practicing social distancing and they're wearing their proper protective gear until they get on the boat and on the water, there's no reason to believe that there's going to be a medical danger to anyone," said Garnsey.

All athletes and staff will also undergo daily health screenings. The tournament is set to be in Clayton from July 23 to 26.

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