By Tommy Mann Jr. – For The Record

Two highly successful Bassmaster Elite Series events are paving the way for future events, including the most recent high profile tournament.

The Elite Redfish Series Classic Kick Off, the championship event of the Elite Redfish Series trail, will take place Friday, April 8 through Sunday, April 10 at the City of Orange Boat Ramp, which is located off Simmons Drive in Orange. The event will feature the 35 anglers who qualified during the 2015 season.

The Elite Redfish Series Classic Kick Off is being presented by the Stark Cultural Venues and hosted by the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce and it will be held in conjunction with the Orange County River Festival.

The 2016 Classic Kick Off will feature anglers who qualified during the 2015 tournament season competing at the three-day event with the top prize being a Yellowfin Boat with a Yamaha motor and a custom Ameratrail trailer. Practice begins on Sunday, April 3 and continues through Thursday, April 7.

According to John Gothia, one of the event organizers, Orange has quickly become a fishing destination location in the past few years thanks to the success of two Bassmaster Elite Series events.

“Those two tournaments and the success we had from them are definitely the reason why we are able to have this redfish tournament,” Gothia said. “There is no doubt that our experience with Bassmasters made us stand out to the redfish series. They actually contacted us and expressed interest in coming to Orange, and we are glad to be able to do this.

“We have some of the best redfishing here in the country,” Gothia added. “I’ve spoken with some of the anglers in the tournament and they are really excited to have the tournament coming here because they know what the fishing is like.”

Fishing is a popular activity across the region, but it is extra revenue associated with the activity which is of the greatest benefit.

“The economic revenue we get from people who come to Orange for the weekend is the biggest benefit of having an event like this,” Gothia explained. “It’s a lot more than just fishing.  The people who come to Orange to this tournament will spend money at our restaurants and at our stores and in some of hour hotel too.

“This is just one of the quality of life events we have here in Orange,” he continued. “It’s about fishing, but there is more to it. We not only have this fishing tournament, but we have the Orange County River Festival that weekend as well as Art in the Park. There are all of the Stark Cultural Venues too.”

The Orange County River Festival will feature tons of family activities, live music, carnival rides, games, vendors, food and more. Parking and admission to the festival and weigh-in for the fishing tournament are free each day.

On Saturday, April 9, the festival will feature numerous activities suitable for the whole family. Highlights include The Cure Starts Now “Race Against The Odds” 5K Run/Walk, as well as the live music performance by country music artist Craig Campbell.

The “Race Against The Odds” 5K Run/Walk will be held at 8 a.m., Saturday, April 9 in Orange. The cost is $35 for the 5K run/walk and $20 for kids fun run and price includes a performance shirt for the 5K and a cotton T-shirt for the kids run. Refreshments will be served following the run and participants receive an outstanding finishers medal. The event is a timed event and place medals will be presented by age group for men and women.

The purpose of the event is to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research and is being held in memory of Corbin Burnett and Indy Parkhurst. Those interested in participating may register online at

Country music artist Craig Campbell will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 9, at the City of Orange Boat Ramp following the day’s fishing activities and in conjunction with the Orange County River Festival. A local music group still to be announced will perform starting at 6 p.m.

Campbell, 37, is a native of Lyons, Ga. and is a former member of Tracy Byrd’s touring band. He signed to Biggger Picture Music Group in 2010 and has released two EP’s and two albums since that time.

His self-titled, full-length debut was released in April 2011 and peaked at number 11 on the U.S. Country chart and number 65 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart behind the strength of singles “Family Man,” “Fish” and “When I Get It.”

In May 2013, he released his sophomore album “Never Regret,” which reached number 27 on the U.S. Country chart and number 96 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart and featured the Top 20 hit, “Keep Them Kisses Comin'” and “Outta My Head.”

In 2015 Campbell released the single “Tomorrow Tonight,” which hit radio stations in May and is the first song from his yet-to-be-announced album for Red Bow Records where he signed following his previous label’s closure.

On Friday, Brad Brinkley and Comfort Zone will perform with Chad Richard starting the music at 6 p.m. All music for the weekend is sponsored by Granger Chevrolet.

A popular activity of the Orange County River Festival is the Kids Live Catfish Tank, sponsored by Gopher Industrial, where children are able to catch and release live catfish.

Gothia said this year’s event will feature a spin-off of the catfish catch and release activity with the Stark Cultural Venues Live Redfish Demonstration, where children will be able to see and hold live redfish.

“These fish are a lot hardier than most others, so they can withstand the handling a lot better,” Gothia said. “The purpose of this is to help everyone learn more about these fish. The new attraction has a lot to do with education and our resources, and it falls in line with the mission of the Stark Cultural Venues.”

According to Gothia, the new attraction will be included at all stops of the 2016 Elite Redfish Series trail and help educate and inform people about this fish species and the Stark Cultural Venues mission.

As an added benefit of having the event in Orange, “The Elite Redfish Series” will air on Destination America, one of the Discovery Channel’s family of networks. The whole 2016 season will be aired in full one-hour features and each episode will include tournament action from each respective three-day tournament. The episodes will be shown later this year.

“It’s going to be a great weekend of fishing,” Gothia said. “This is a family-oriented event with a lot of free activities and attraction. With the Orange County River Festival and Art in the Park going on at the same time, there will be plenty for people to do and enjoy.”

Find more information about the fishing tournament at Search Facebook for information on the Orange County River Festival and weekend activities.