November 21, 2017 6:22:12 PM
Richard Parker used to live in the New Hope community, so he knows about the generosity and the hospitality in the Golden Triangle.
Parker also has it on good authority that the fishing is pretty popular, too.
Parker will bring both elements together Friday and Saturday in the Bass Tactix Fishing Youth State event for anglers ages 5-18 on the Columbus Pool.
Parker, who now lives in Beaumont, which is southeast of Hattiesburg, said between 200-300 participants are expected to compete for a $1,000 first-place prize and payouts to seven places. The weigh-in will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at the East Bank ramp. Parker said the community is invited to attend.
"From living there and from taking a poll from our previous tours, what keeps everybody coming back to Columbus is the hospitality and the kindness and friendliness of the people in the Columbus area," Parker said. "I have never heard one bad word form anybody in the Columbus area. It is a great place to go and a great place to hold a tournament."
Bass Tactix is a sanctioned, Christian-based, nationwide trail that is open to any youth angler. Parker said the trail, which is in its second season, has had participants in its youth and its legacy (youth and adults) from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee.
Parker said the Columbus event is open to anglers from any state and to home schooled, public, and private school student-ahletes. Anglers will accumulate points that will help them qualify for the FLW National Championship next June in Florence, Alabama, on Pickwick Lake. Parker said there are two divisions -- Division I (community teams through Class 3A high school teams) and Division II (Class 4A-6A schools) -- for championships. He said all high school kids will be able to compete at the FLW World Championships, which will be held in conjunction with the FLW National Championship.
For those who haven't registered, there will be a sign-up from 5-7 p.m. Friday at the Columbus Convention & Visitor's Bureau building at 117 3rd St. South in downtown Columbus. There is no late fee. Free food will be provided by Hank's No. 1 Championship BBQ and Catering in Columbus.
Parker said Columbus is an ideal location because visitors from children to adults have plenty of things to do. He thanked Nancy Carpenter, executive director and CEO of the CCVB, and Thomas Berkery, the sports tourism director for the CCVB, for their help in organizing and promoting the event.
Other sponsors are: S&H Outcast, Visit Columbus, Evinrude outboard motors, Phoenix boats, Bass Assassin lures, Quality Inn, Hyatt Place Columbus, Lost Pizza, Berkley baits, ABU Garcia (reels/equipment), MS Flex (jerseys), Sqwincher, and I-Fish Apparel.
Parker, who started high school fishing in the state of Mississippi at Oak Grove High, said Bass Tactix is part of Fishing League Worldwide. He said both organizations will give out more than $130,000 in cash prizes and scholarships in the coming year.
For more information on the Columbus event and future tournaments, go to www.basstacticsmshs.com.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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