Wetumpka welcomes Bassmasters for 3rd year in a row

WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - The stage is set. Now, organizers wait for the crowds.

"We're probably looking at 3,500-4,000 people," says Wetumpka Mayor, Jerry Willis.

He loves when Bassmasters Elite Series comes to town.

12 professional bass fishermen take to Lake Jordan, competing for eight spots in the finals held in Montgomery the following week.  It's no doubt creating a big splash for Wetumpka's bottom line.

"That's been one of the things that's helped us in this downturn of the economy is that we've had events that have brought people in and allowed people the opportunity to spend money here with us," adds Willis.

While most folks are going for the fishing, what they may not realize is one of the best parts of Bassmasters this year is the food.

"The thrill of the grill!  We can get out here and get all hot and sweaty," says Lou Scurnopoli.

He's from Opelika and is one of 20 other barbecue chefs from across Alabama who are competing in the first ever Cookin' on the Coosa Barbecue Cook-Off.

"Beautiful place.  First time I've been here."

"We were lucky enough to pair with Bassmasters event. They let us piggyback with them and the city to have this event," says Burton Ward, Development Director for the Elmore County Community Foundation.

All proceeds from the event fund non-profit organizations in Elmore County.

The cook-off is drawing a big local presence, too. Burke Hughes works for a Wetumpka-based company that brought three barbecue teams.

"I think it's great for our community. It brings everybody together for a great event, a great cause. I do hate it for the other teams who traveled from so far away because we do plan on winning the barbecue contest."

But no matter who serves up the best barbecue, one thing's for sure.  Food and professional fishermen equal a great catch for the city.

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