New logo, new job title and renewed tournament.
2011 was a banner year for the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce, which congratulated Lew Hastings for his active first year at the helm of the island business organization with a promotion to executive director.
Hastings was given the new job title by the chamber board on his one-year anniversary. Reviving the World's Richest Tarpon Tournament and increasing membership were cited as chief among his first-year accomplishments.
The new Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce logo.
"He's done everything we asked and more," said Richy Edwards, chamber board president. "He's been great for us."
Hastings also reorganized chamber offices with an emphasis on social media, member communication and merchandising, which includes reissuing popular Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament posters and incorporating a tarpon into the new Chamber logo.
Key for gauging Hastings' year two success will be the level of resuscitation of the once-renowned World's Richest Tarpon Tournament, which was shelved five years ago after sponsorship and participation receded.
What: Downtown Tarpon Festival with three tarpon tourneys
When: May 17-18, World's Richest Tarpon Tournament; May 19, second annual Gasparilla Island Kids Classic; and May 20, 22nd annual Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament.
Contact information: Call 964-0568 or go to worldsrichesttarpon.com.
Hastings has already landed several big-name sponsors for the event, which will offer an $80,000 purse if the field hits a maximum 50 competing boats. Sponsors include Budweiser, Peace River Distributing, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and Clear Channel Communications.
"There are more sponsors likely to com on board," Hastings said.
Conservation, education and sportsmanship is the theme of the WRTT scheduled for May 17-18.
"We have to not handle the fish," said Hastings.
The WRTT fronts a tarpon season-opening weekend that also features the second annual Gasparilla Island Kids Classic tarpon tourney May 19 and the 22nd annual Ladies Day Tarpon Tourney May 20 in conjunction with the Downtown Tarpon Festival's music, food and children's activities.
An appearance by the Mote Mobile Aquarium, sponsored by the Boca Grande Woman's Club, will run throughout Tarpon Festival Weekend.
The Mote Mobile Aquarium features a 1,200-gallon exhibit that includes tropical and subtropical fish species such as queen angelfish, snook, hogfish, bar soldierfish and many other swimmers indigenous to Florida.
Mote Mobile includes a traveling touch tank that allows visitors to hold live animals, including starfish, sea urchins, horshoe crabs and marine snails. Mote Mobile also offers facts about sea turtles that nest along Florida's beaches and about some of the crabs and shells you can find along Florida's beaches.
For volunteers who really want to help revive the WRTT, two training sessions have been scheduled for tourney observers. Observers must attend at least one free session to be assigned to a vessel during the tournament. Session one is at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 21 at the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium, 131 First St., Boca Grande. The final training session is at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, April 21 at the Boca Grande Community Center Woman's Club Room, 131 First St., Boca Grande.
Download observer application forms at worldsrichesttarpon.com and e-mail to email@example.com by April 10 or mail to Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce P.O. Box 704 Boca Grande FL 33921 by April 1.