Wood County Officials Are Excited and Appreciative as They Prepare for Upcoming 2024 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Tournament at Lake Fork

Wood County Officials Are Excited and Appreciative as They Prepare for Upcoming 2024 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Tournament at Lake Fork

A lot of work went into bringing the upcoming 2024 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Tournament at Lake Fork to Wood County for another year. And more work remains, given that the event starts in a little more than a month, beginning February 29 and concluding March 3.

Those active preparations, however, didn’t stop officials at the Wood County Economic Development Commission (WCEDC), from taking a pause in their hectic work schedules to acknowledge the efforts of their own team as well as the work of its partners in bringing the prestigious event to Lake Fork.

“It is such an honor for Wood County to host this event,” said Christine Thomas, Executive Director of the WCEDC. “We’re bringing first-class entertainment to residents, who can enjoy the fishing tournament and participate in the accompanying festival. It is also an opportunity to showcase Lake Fork, which is one of the premier bass fishing lakes in the nation. Finally, it represents a significant boost in tourism dollars, which trickles down to every resident in Wood County.”

The aforementioned festival and the fishing tournament will be held at the Caney Point Recreation Area. The recently completed marina and park features a giant pavilion, six-lane boat ramp, paved public parking, and restroom facilities.

Tom Keenan, Chairman of the WCEDC Board, added that the new marina makes it possible to host “a pickleball tournament; cornhole tournament; food trucks; and a coffee, wine, and beer garden; as well as a protected, covered area in case of inclement weather.” Headlining the festival this year will be country music legend Neal McCoy, who hails from nearby Longview.

“This is the first real event for the new marina, and we’re really trying to kick it off with a bang,” Keenan said.

He added that both the Bassmaster Elite Tournament and the festival would not be possible were it not for partners like the Sabine River Authority of Texas (SRA), which owns and manages Lake Fork.

“They have become a great partner for us, and not just for the Bassmaster event, but for many other events,” Keenan said. “We could not have done this without the SRA.”

Troy Henry, Upper Basin Regional Manager for the SRA, said the event offers an “opportunity to showcase” the work the authority is doing.

“You couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to showcase Lake Fork and all the work of SRA team members over the course of the year,” said Henry. “Each and every one of them have played a role in making this event possible.”

The WCEDC’s Thomas added that the team effort will be rewarded with tremendous attendance at the Bassmaster Elite event and the accompanying festival.

“There’s something for everyone, whether it is the tournament or the festival,” she said. “It’s family oriented, so we do expect a lot of families. However, we also anticipate a lot of outdoorsmen from surrounding counties. We have invested a lot of resources in making this one of the premier events in East Texas.”

The Pilot Club of Quitman is a nonprofit community organization that was chosen to coordinate sponsorships for the festival in 2024. Opportunities range from $25 for food and merchandise vendors all the way up to $5,000 for the top family festival sponsorship that includes a variety of promotional benefits. More information about sponsorships is available by contacting the Pilot Club at quitmanpilot@gmail.com