from the Port Arthur News, June 25, 2023
Celebrating the sixth year of the big tournament that benefits the United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County, the tournament committee made several changes to increase participation, add to the family friendly environment and raise more funds to impact the community.
One of the first notable changes was inviting partners at Diamond Green Diesel to share the title sponsorship with Valero and assist with event planning.
The two industrial partners made quick work of the planning details and tournament improvements.
“This event is one that people look forward to and plan for. Having worked with the team throughout the planning, I can promise you that every detail is examined to bring improvement year after year, and that is why we have anglers travel from across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana to fish this event,” Janie Johnson, CEO of United Way of MSJC.
This year’s event transitioned from a stringer tournament to Big Bass to protect the fish from the stress of the heat and return fish hourly after a trip to the live tank for a health boost.
The tournament began on a Friday evening with the angler reception and welcome party.
The atmosphere was that of a small-town festival, with each gold and platinum sponsor offering the best of our Tex-Mex, Cajun, and Texan BBQ heritage via street tacos, pasta-laya, fried fish & shrimp, to bacon jalapeno-wrapped rib eyes, and so much more.
Sponsors at Gopher Industrial provided a children’s zone, allowing parents to enjoy the live music and good company while children played.
Friday gave one last opportunity for nearly a hundred anglers to register onsite and pre-registered anglers checked in before the angler reception.
Registration & angler check-in was also the site for more than 100 door prizes to be awarded. At the end of the evening, 781 anglers were registered and ready for the first hint of daylight to begin fishing for the seven hourly payouts.
Shortly after 7 a.m. the first boats began to line the shore, and anglers carried fish in to be weighed. Each hour ten anglers would divide a total of $4,250 in winnings.
In the seventh hour, in addition to the hourly payouts, the Big Bass was awarded an additional check of $5,000.
Some of the biggest smiles at the weigh-in trailer and the loudest cheers came from the junior anglers, those under 15 years of age.
“This is a special event that promotes a family friendly environment with the needs of our neighbors in the community at heart. It is a fundraiser that will provide $182,000.00 to support programs that impact daily lives here locally in Mid & South Jefferson County. No one expects to need the help of United Way programs. Still, because of this event and the community working together with United Way, there will be help when needed,” said Josh Nehlig, United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County board president Mark Skobel, VP and general manager of Valero Port Arthur Refinery, thanked all the industry partners who sponsored this year’s event and the individual anglers who registered.
“It is exciting to see support for the event grow annually and I am thrilled we have raised so much money to benefit the United Way of Mid & South Jefferson County and its partner agencies,” he said.