Does the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship have an impact on the local economy?
The answer has been a resounding “yes”—and a positive one at that.
Shirley Livingstone, a co-owner of Sunset Country Shell here, spent most of her mornings last week getting up early and making muffins for a slew of anglers gassing up their boats and getting ready to fish.
“We had a lot of the bass boats come in," she said. ”During the week before the tournament, I tried to be there by 5 a.m. During the tournament, we opened at 4 a.m.
“That meant I was up at 2 a.m. making muffins," she laughed. "They didn’t hurt my sales any.”
Linda Haney and Karen Slusarchuk of Tumbler’s next door also were up at the crack of dawn for much of last week. They opened at 4 a.m. from Wednesday to Sunday and although the first two days were quiet, from Friday on was as hectic as can be.
“I think we didn’t do enough advertising—a lot of [the anglers] had stated they didn’t know we were open right from Wednesday,” Slusarchuk said.
“For the most part, they had eggs, bacon and sausage with pan fries," she added. "We went through seven dozen eggs a day. I was running.”
The extra business also meant extra hours for employees. Livingstone had a staff member come in an hour earlier during the tournament while Slusarchuk and Haney brought in an extra chef for the early-morning crowd.
The FFCBC committee has commissioned Geoff Gillon, of the Rainy River Future Development Corp. here, to do an economic impact study of the bass tournament on Fort Frances.
From the anglers’ viewpoint alone, each team had to pay for food, lodging and gas for each day here, with most twosomes coming at least a week before the tournament actually started.
On average, one team would spend $4,000 of its own money, on top of the $1,000 registration fee, during the bass tournament, generating over $400,000.
And that doesn’t count the extra dollars paid by people dallying in under the tent, eating hamburgers and sipping beer while waiting for the daily weigh-in to begin.
Entertainment also was held nightly from Wednesday through Saturday.
Both Livingstone and Slusarchuk said much of their extra business was generated by the anglers themselves—which just happen to be the very clientele they preferred waiting on.
“I know I sure had a lot of nice guys in and a lot of returns from last year," Livingstone said. "I can’t say enough about them. They’re really pleasant customers.”
“They were very friendly and very patient, too," agreed Slusarchuk. "It was definitely hard getting up at 3 a.m. [but] we’ll definitely do it again.”