SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — In concern for risks to anglers and other leaders in the sportfishing industry from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame has canceled its 2020 Induction Banquet, John Mazurkiewicz, President of the Hall of Fame Board, announced today.
The banquet was scheduled for Sept. 24, 2020, in the White River Conference Center adjacent to the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield where the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame exhibits are housed.
“The rapid spread of the contagious coronavirus in recent weeks convinced our Board of Directors to cancel this year’s banquet and postpone the induction of the Class of 2020 Hall of Famers until next year,” Mazurkiewicz said. “It’s the right decision, but it’s one we regret having to make because recent induction dinners in Springfield have been extremely well-attended and have quickly become one of the highlight events of the year for many in our industry.”
Scheduled to be inducted this fall were former Bassmaster Classic champions Jay Yelas and the late Bryan Kerchal, the late lure designer James Heddon, fishing educator Ron Lindner and veteran outdoor journalist Steve Bowman.
“We do not believe it would be possible to hosts hundreds of attendees — or more importantly our inductees and their families — in a banquet setting without risking the spread of this awful virus, and it would not be fair to these outstanding individuals to induct them in front of a limited audience,” Mazurkiewicz said, adding that joint induction ceremonies will be held for 2020 and 2021 inductees.
COVID-19 has already infected more than 3.4 million people in the United States and caused the deaths of more than 139,000 Americans. To help contain its spread, the American Sportfishing Association held its annual ICAST trade show virtually, instead of onsite in Orlando, Fla. Major national bass fishing tournaments were postponed and rescheduled throughout this spring and summer, and some, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, are being held with spectators not allowed to attend.
“While our annual banquet will not be held this fall, we’ll continue with our popular auction online later this year, giving bass anglers and fans opportunities to bid on one-of-a-kind fishing items, premium tackle items and bucket-list fishing trips,” said Hall of Fame vice president Tim Carini. “The annual Hall of Fame auction is our main fundraising event that enables us to fulfill our mission of celebrating, promoting and preserving the sport of bass fishing.”
Some of the monies raised are used to fund important conservation projects to benefit freshwater fisheries and other aquatic resources. Recipients of the Hall’s 2020 grants, which were to be awarded at the September banquet, will be announced later this summer.