STARK Cultural Venues partners with B.A.S.S.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — B.A.S.S. LLC announced today that STARK Cultural Venues of Orange, Texas, will serve as the title sponsor for the season opener of the 2013 Bassmaster Elite Series, the premier circuit of professional bass fishing.

The Elite Series event — the Sabine River Challenge Presented by STARK Cultural Venues — will take place March 14-17 on the Sabine River system out of the city of Orange.

“STARK Cultural Venues was instrumental in bringing our first Elite tournament of the year to Orange and the Sabine River,” said Bruce Akin, CEO of Birmingham, Ala.-based B.A.S.S. “We are looking forward to a great event with a good dose of Texas hospitality.”

The stop in Orange will be a new one for the Elite Series. Also new is the collaboration of B.A.S.S. and STARK Cultural Venues.

“By partnering with B.A.S.S., we welcome the opportunity to not only showcase the scenic waterways around Orange, Texas, as a natural resource, but also the opportunity to highlight the educational and cultural resources provided by the Stark Foundation through its STARK Cultural Venues,” said Walter Riedel, president and CEO of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation.

The mission of STARK Cultural Venues is to bring enriching and educational resources to southeastern Texas through four venues: Stark Museum of Art, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, The W.H. Stark House and Lutcher Theater.

Several of the venues are planning special events on the March 14-17 Elite tournament days. In addition, the City of Orange will present its annual Art in the Park on March 16 at Stark Park in downtown, just a few blocks from the Elite site. The Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce will sponsor live music on March 15 and March 16, as well as a festival and carnival, March 14-17, within the Bassmaster Elite Series Expo.

STARK Cultural Venues is part of the Stark Foundation, which was founded in 1961 by Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark. Their goal was to enhance the lives of the citizens of Orange and southeastern Texas by providing experiences within the arts and spotlighting the area’s history and wealth of natural resources.

The Stark legacy today includes the Stark Museum of Art, which opened in 1978 and houses a permanent collection of Western art; Lutcher Theater, a performing arts center built in 1980; and The W.H. Stark House. After a careful restoration completed in 1981, the Orange landmark house was opened for tours. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark by the Texas Historical Commission.

The fourth venue, Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, once was Luther Stark’s private gardens that he named after the mythical place described in a favorite book, Lost Horizon. Opened in 2008 to visitors, this newest venue features gardens, walkways, sculptures, water features, a wetlands demonstration and much more.

Fishing fans can enjoy the STARK Cultural Venues while the Elite pros compete over four days for a first prize of $100,000 and a berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. The pros will be looking for a strong, fast start to the season. They’ll have to do it by tackling the new challenge of miles and miles of the Sabine River system, which runs through Orange and into Sabine Lake, a Gulf of Mexico estuary.

For more about the season opener and the entire 2013 Bassmaster schedule, go to the 2013 schedule page. For more about STARK Cultural Venues, visit