HUNTINGDON, Tenn. — Before the fish began hitting the scales Monday afternoon at the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior National Championship at the Carroll County 1,000 Acre Recreational Lake, Huntingdon Mayor Dale Kelley and Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Hurley presented Junior Series Tournament Director Hank Weldon and B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart with an honorary key to the city of Huntingdon.
“I’m honored,” Stewart said. “This has only happened to me one other time a long time ago. It’s an honor that they think enough of you and your organization to honor you with a certificate and an actual key to the city. It’s a pretty cool deal.”
Since it was built in 2013, Bassmaster has held six total events at the Carroll County Lake and 2020 marks the fifth straight season the venue has hosted the Junior Series National Championship.
“We appreciate Bassmaster. They are a first class organization. We want to be associated with them,” Hurley said. “So the mayor and I sat down and said what is something we can give to recognize Bassmaster, and particularly Jon and Hank for their commitment to it. So the decision was made to give them a key to the city. It’s not something the mayor gives out frequently. I do not know of any key to the city he has given out this year except to these two individuals.”
Since they began hosting events in Carroll County, Weldon said he has been impressed with the commitment Carroll County has shown to hosting the Junior Series National Championship.
“I’m super proud of what we have been able to build here. It is a major collaborative effort with Carroll County,” Weldon said. “They built the lake and once they filled it they wanted to get an event to it. They have tried to establish themself as the Junior Bassmaster Championship, almost like the Little League World Series. All roads lead to Huntingdon, Tenn., for the Junior National Championship, and they have done a fantastic job.”
With just over 22 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 50 feet around the dam, Hurley said the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior Series was the perfect fit for the Carroll County Lake.
With each event, Hurley said the city and the Chamber of Commerce try to add something to the festivities for the enjoyment of the anglers, the friends and families of the anglers and the tournament staff. This year, the Huntingdon High School marching band kicked off the proceeding with a parade through downtown before performing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
The local fire department also parked a fire engine behind the Bassmaster stage and flew a giant American flag from the ladder throughout the day.
“We want it to be an enjoyable event for everyone,” Hurley said. “We realize the National Championship is a limited opportunity for someone to have. So we want it to be great. Today we had free lemonade, hot dogs and soup. We had shuttles running back and forth. We try to do the little things to make it enjoyable and different."