Bassmaster Elite event comes to Cecil County next week
● By Steven Hoffman
Some of the country’s best anglers will be competing in the waterways of the Upper Bay as Cecil County hosts the Bassmaster Elite Chesapeake Challenge from Aug. 13 to 16.
The Bassmaster Elite Chesapeake Challenge is one of only eight elite events on the tour, and thousands of spectators are expected to turn out for what is one of the region’s highlights of the summer of 2015.
“We’re really looking forward to this,” said Sandy Turner, the executive director of Cecil County Tourism, the organization that led the effort to bring the event to Cecil County over the last several years. The Bassmaster Elite competitions attract some of the best professional bass fishermen in the country. The professionals compete throughout the year to qualify for the major events, including the Chesapeake Challenge. There will be as many as 113 participants in the event. Each boat will have a marshal on board to make sure that all the rules are followed.
This is not the first time that Cecil County has played host to a Bassmaster event.
“We hosted two Bassmaster Open events in 2009 and 2010,” explained Turner, “and we had a wonderful experience with that.”
According to Turner, they started thinking about hosting an elite tour event back then, but it took time to put a successful bid together. There is significant competition to host the elite events.
“We put a committee together,” Turner said “We got a partner that came to the table with us.”
They submitted the application to host a 2015 event back in February of 2014. The application process took several months. They found out that the bid was successful last summer, at about the same time that Philadelphia was hosting a 2014 Bassmaster Elite event. Many of the anglers made a point to travel south to give the waters of the Chesapeake a try.
For Turner and the other members of the planning team, the announcement that Cecil County would be the host site for 2015 was when planning for the event kicked into high gear.
One of the advantages that Cecil County had during the bidding process was its proximity to population centers on the East Coast. Spectators will come from all around the Mid-Atlantic region. The event is expected to attract between 10,000 and 30,000 spectators. The event could generate about $2 million for the local economy.
“A lot of the people will be eating in our restaurant and staying in our hotels,” Turner said, explaining that the impact will be spread throughout the county—and the surrounding counties, too. She believes that Cecil County’s other attractions, such as zoos and state parks, will shine for the visitors to the area.
They were able to secure a number of important sponsors for the event, including three platinum sponsors—the Maryland Lottery, the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, and the town of North East.
Turner said that the professional anglers were pleased that an elite event would be held on the Chesapeake Bay.
“We had a great reaction from the anglers,” Turner explained. “They were all saying how pleased they are to be coming to the area.”
A full week of activities are being planned for what is being called Cecil County Bass Week. Many of the activities are centered on North East. The North East Community Park will be the setting for SummerFest, which will include music, food, vendors, children’s activities, and more.
While the Bassmaster Elite Chesapeake Challenge won’t be televised live, the cameras will be rolling each day of the competition for a broadcast on ESPN2 and the Outdoor Channel.