Weekend events bringing large crowds into city

By RON HARRIS, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 3/17/17

More than 2,000 visitors are expected in Jasper and Walker County this weekend to take part in three separate events hosted by the city of Jasper.

The …

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Weekend events bringing large crowds into city

Posted

More than 2,000 visitors are expected in Jasper and Walker County this weekend to take part in three separate events hosted by the city of Jasper.

The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Crossover Tournament, which began Thursday at Jasper’s Memorial Park, brought in 12 Division II women’s softball teams from historically black college and universities (HBCU) across the Southeast.

On Saturday, two events are expected to bring in even larger crowds to the city.

The second Electrathon Grand Prix — a series of races in downtown Jasper featuring electric-powered and greenpowered race teams made up of high school students in grades 9-12 — will be held beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday. Teams from across Alabama will participate, along with two teams from Georgia.

And the largest crowd will come with the Alabama BASS Nation high school bass tournament on Lewis Smith Lake. More than 315 boats — that’s 630 anglers and a boat captain in each boat — which means almost 1,000 participants in the qualifier bass tournament.

The three events combined are expected to have a significant economic impact on Jasper and Walker County.

“It’s going to be incredible,” said Linda Lewis, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County.

This is the 10th year the SIAC tournament has been played in Jasper.

Teams competing in the three-day tournament are Miles College, Tuskegee University, Clark Atlanta, Albany State, Fort Valley State, Lane College, Lemoyne-Owen, Paine College, Spring Hill College, Kentucky State, Benedict College and Claflin University.

“This tournament alone brings more than 300 players to the city,” said Jasper Mayor David O’Mary., adding that hotels in the city are fully booked. “We love to see those lodging facilities booked like that.”

Events like the SIAC tournament, as well as the bass tournament and Electrathon, give visitors to Jasper what O’Mary calls “the flavor of the city.”

“You never know where that leads, as far as development for the city,” he said.

All three events, O’Mary said, are vitally important for the city, as well as Walker County.

“There are great events for the city,” he said, “and it’s my hope we see the frequency of these type events in the city grow.”

“This tournament definitely has a big economic impact for the city, especially for the businesses here,” said Jasper City Council member Willie Moore, who was instrumental in bringing the tournament to Jasper 10 years ago. “I think it’s great for our city.”

Moore said coaches he’s talked to about returning to Jasper each year have nothing but praise for the reception they receive.

“They love the hospitality,” he said.

Moore said the tournament will return to Jasper for at least two more years after the SIAC agreed last year to another three-year deal to bring the tournament to Jasper.

“They feel right at home,” Moore said of the feedback he’s received from coaches and players from the teams in the tournament. “They really like the hospitality and the way we’re helpful to them with anything they need.”

Walker County Center of Technology automotive technology instructor Michael Craig said the opportunity for students to compete in Saturday’s Electrathon Grand Prix is beneficial to their continued success in the automotive industry after high school.

Craig said 13 teams — made up of about 200 students — from across Alabama are set to be in Jasper to compete. One team from Florida is competing.

Saturday’s BASS Nation tournament will launch at safe daylight, Lewis said, with weigh-in set for 1:30 p.m. at the Smith Lake Dam. The tournament is the second qualifying tournament in the BASS Nation Series for 2017.