SMITH LAKE —
Cullman County hopes to reel in more business and tourism at Smith Lake by signing Bassmasters Elite Series professional fisherman Kevin Hawk to a two-year sponsorship, officials announced Friday.
The Ramona, Calif. native will promote Smith Lake Park and Cullman County on his bass fishing boat and gear. The advertisement is expected to reaching millions when the eight Bassmasters Elite Series tournaments Hawk competes in this year are televised on ESPN, said Doug Davenport, Cullman County Parks and Recreation Director.
“Cullman County has never really stepped out and done anything like this before,” Davenport said. “Whether his boat is rolling down the highway, on the lake or on television, people are going to see Smith Lake. We see this as a great opportunity to draw attention to our park and all of Cullman County.”
County officials unveiled the sleek black and red design on Hawk’s boat at Smith Lake Park Friday with Hawk and Sammy Lee, Bass Fishing Hall of Fame board president, in attendance. Officials did not have information about the cost to the county for the sponsorship available by deadline of this article.
Hawk said the sponsorship will hopefully boost attendance at Smith Lake Park as well as interest from those in the sport, generating more economic activity with local hotel stays, shopping and dining.
“The Southeast is the heart and soul of bass fishing, and fishing is particularly great in North Alabama and the Tennessee Valley,” Hawk said. “That’s why a lot of people in professional bass fishing are moving here.”
Hawk’s first tournament will be March 13-16 on Lake Seminole at Brainbridge, Ga. The event will be televised later on ESPN. In addition to promoting Smith Lake Park with his boat and gear, Hawk will also host guided trips that will be raffled off, with proceeds going toward improvements at Smith Lake Park, Davenport said.
This weekend, Smith Lake will play host to a Bassmasters Open tournament. Then, on Oct. 3 and 4, the park will host its own fishing tournament, the Smith Lake Park Bass Fest, with the winner receiving $10,000. The tournament will also award $2,500 for the biggest fish and $500 for the winning parent-child team. The Oct. 4 tournament will also include music, arts/ crafts and food vendors and is free to the public.
For more information or to register for the Smith Lake Park Bass Fest, go to http://smithlakeparkbassfest.com/index.html or call Davenport at 256-590-2667.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at email@example.com or phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.