This year’s Orange County Association of Retarded Citizens’ fishing tournament fundraiser is from 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7.

Prizes range from $25 to $250 – altogether a $2,700 payout with 31 winners – with the big money in divisions such as speckled trout, redfish, flounder, bass, white perch, catfish, croaker, grinnel, rough fish and gar. Only redfish from 20-27 inches are allowed.
Weigh-in is at 6 p.m. Saturday at the OCARC, 905 W. Park Ave.

Most contestants fish Sabine River or Sabine Lake, but any open public fishing area can be used including Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend. OCARC officials encourage a family atmosphere at the event. Entry fee is $25. For applications, call 886-1363.

“The applications are coming in good,” said John Thomas, OCARC director. “Looks like we’re going to have good weather. I think this [recent] rain is really going to help; it might move the fish around a little bit – because they’ve gotten in that summer pattern when they just kind of stay in the same spot.

OCARC is funded by various businesses and nonprofit agencies and supports itself by making and selling trophies, plaques, industrial signs, desk sets and name pins. The organization was founded in 1956.

The 2010 Don and Evelyn Garrett Memorial Award goes to Mike Poutra, owner of Dominion Forms. The award is given to “behind the scenes” contributors.

“They (Dominion) buy a lot of our stuff and resell it,” Thomas said. “It’s almost like we have a sales force out there. We’ve been in business together for 37 years.”

“Next to one of the plants, we’re probably one of their largest customers as far as how much business we bring them,” Poutra said. “And the whole reason is to give those clients down there something to do and be productive … sometimes when I’m feeling a little down I’ll go by there, and those kids – they get to me. They’re good people.”

In the early days of the tournament, Don Garrett approached Thomas with some ideas that weren’t too easy on the wallet.

Thomas told him, “That sounds good, but where am I going to get this money?”

Garrett wrote him a sizable check with the idea that no one ever find out. Garrett was an avid fisherman, and actually died of a heart attack while out fishing one day.

“After he died I got this phone call from Evelyn,” Thomas  said. “She was going through Don’s records and noticed he’d given a large amount of money to us every year. I said, ‘Well I guess I can tell you now since he’s passed away’ – and she picked it up until the day she died and also contributed a lot to OCARC.”

The tournament began in 1987. That first year, weigh-ins took place at the old Jack Tar Hotel. Then they moved to Sprad’s Boat Town and later, to the DuPont Employees’ Recreation Association.

The original OCARC workshop started in the home of Cathryn Boyd. It was later moved to the Thomen Center. After an apparent need for more room, the board members started looking for a permanent facility for the OCARC Workshop. In the late ‘60s Nelda Stark donated property at the current location.

Since 1971, OCARC has expanded with other workshop extensions, serving around 80 adults daily and a staff of 16.

OCARC is funded in part by the United Fund, but the workshops try to be as self-supporting as possible. OCARC’s goal is to make the client as self-sufficient as possible, to train them for jobs in the private sector so they may lead a normal, productive life in society.

Past Don and Evelyn Garrett Memorial Award winners, starting in 1992 and continuing until 2009; are Bob Walker, Dickie Colburn, Jim Johnson, Ron Borel, Bill Wallace, Jean Conner, Betty Meadows, Andy Love, Kevin Staudemier, Lynn Cardner, the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, Pete and Janice Gresham, David and Peggy Claybar, Evelyn Garrett, Jim Stelly, Stanley Armstrong, Victor Galaviz; and Beth Rach and Lou Ann McKinley.