Cancelling large fishing tournament pains organizers, saddens anglers

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This summer’s large fishing tournament at Mitchell’s Bay in Chatham-Kent has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tournament co-chairs Carol Ann Belanger and Tom Beaton posted the cancellation notice on the Mitchell’s Bay Open fishing tournament’s web page on Tuesday, informing anglers of the painful decision.

“It is with painful regret, and after serious deliberation by the Mitchell’s Bay Area Association (MBAA) and the Bass Tournament Committee, and given the current Ontario Emergency Measures Regulations due to COVID- 19, a decision has been made to cancel the 7th Annual Canadian Tire Mitchell’s Bay Open (CTMBO) scheduled for July 3, 4 and 5, 2020,” the post read. “Our focus will remain on resuming the tournament in July of 2021.”

Event organizers said they reviewed moving forward with the tournament this July but it just wasn’t feasible given all the pressures being experienced by families and sponsors.

“We felt we needed to take a proactive stand on the pressures and considerations facing you and rather than wait to make a last-minute call, it was in the best interest of all to give as much notice as possible,” the event co-chairs wrote.

Refund information for entry fees will be posted shortly at mitchellsbayopen.com.

The fishing tournament co-chairs also recognize all the sponsors are taking a big hit to their businesses, revenues are down, and staff is being laid off because of the crisis.

“We are very fortunate to have a sound core of enthusiastic and supportive sponsors for this event. The last thing we want to ask of you is to support us financially this year,” said Belanger and Beaton. “We felt that it was only right to respect your situation in this time of emergency measures and give you the time and space to deal with and recover from this extenuating circumstance.”

Finally, the committee wanted to make sure all of the tournament volunteers were kept safe as most of them are retirees and are at greater risk from the virus.

“A quick review of the list of volunteers reveals that most are retirees. Your health and safety is a priority to us,” said the cancellation notice.

The Mitchell’s Bay Open fishing tournament has more than 50 volunteers and organizers said the annual event would not be what it is every year without them.

“We take so much pride in hosting a tournament that sets itself apart from many other events. Our Angler’s Dinner, our Children’s Program, the compilation of our Tournament Booklet, the work of our photographers and the offering of support and assistance during the tournament are all designed to maximize the experience at the CTMBO,” Belanger and Beaton added. “The scope and success of the CTMBO would be quite different if it were not for this greater experience and all of you!”

Organizes said they look forward to hosting many more successful tournaments in the future.

“We are saddened by the cancellation of the 2020 tournament and hope that you can understand the necessity of making this decision at the present time,” the post said.