Fishing teams can expect a full payout at the 26th annual Governor’s Cup set for July 11-13, as the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce decided to pay back 100 percent of tournament fees.
“The Gov Cup committee this year decided, to try to attract more teams into the tournament, to offer 100 percent payback . . . every bit of the entry fees that are paid will be paid back to the fishermen,” said Stan Ozark, a site coordinator for the tournament.
Prior to this year, 80 percent of all fees were paid back in the winnings.
Starting in 1998, through 2002, the Gov Cup reached the maximum 200 teams allowed into the tournament. Tournament directors even had to keep a long waiting list. However, enrollment slowly began to fall from 200 down to a tournament-low 69 in 2007.
The numbers began to creep back up to a seven-year high of 105 last year, but the Governor’s Cup committee was not satisfied.
“We just started realizing that to get (fishermen) here, we have to give them everything back,” said Chamber Executive Director Lisa Olk, who is overseeing the financial side of the tournament.
“Governor’s Cup has a huge economic impact to our area. Huge,” she continued. “With people staying in motels, buying gas, food and usually people are not here just for the cup, they come and pre-fish the week before and they’re here all the way through. They bring their wives, they bring their kids, they shop in our stores. It’s a huge impact to our area.”
For Olk and Ozark, being able to increase that impact close to the level enjoyed in the late ’90s and early 2000s is the main focus.
“Our goal this year is to get to 150 (teams),” said Ozark. “I don’t know if we’ll get there this year but I think with our advertising, it’s going to pay off in the future. By going to 100 percent (payout), by next year we’re going to be at 150.”
The Glasgow Chamber received $10,000 from the Montana Office of Tourism to promote the event and spent another $10,000 on advertising, including a commercial spot played on KRTV that can be seen on mtgovcup, the 100 percent payback.
As of July 2, the advertising seemed to be paying off with 97 teams registered for the three-day event with two weeks to go. In comparison, Olk said, the Wednesday before the event started last year, only 83 teams had registered.
“Our numbers are up right now,” said Olk.
But it’s not without some risk, according to Ozark and Olk.
“When we go to the 100 percent payback, we still have all the same expenses,” said Ozark. “We provide meals to the fishermen, a barbecue on Thursday, fish fry on Friday for the fishermen, we end up picking up all the cost on that when we pay out 100 percent.
“We’ve had some help from the Glasgow TBID, the Glasgow Tourism Business Improvement District, which is paying for the meal for the fishermen on Thursday. Our sponsors have come through for us. So we’re kind of going out on a limb here by not taking that 20 percent because, in the past, a lot of that just went right back into the tournament in paying for the meals,” Ozark continued.”
The tournament already utilizes scores of volunteers on a daily basis, as well.
“Because Fort Peck is so big, it doesn’t matter if there are 50 boats out there or 150, we have to have patrol boats basically covering all corners of the lake, of the fishing boundary,” said Ozark.
The 100 percent payback also eliminated the $10 from each team fee the Chamber would use for the conservation fund that helped build the boat ramp in Duck Creek and helped with Home Run pond. There will still be a table set up for donations.
Yet, Ozark and Olk believe it will all be worth it in the end.
“It takes a lot of work but we feel the economic impact is good enough,” said Ozark.
Especially, he said, that whole families not only travel to Glasgow, but are able to take part in the weekend activities.
There is a guys and gals tournament on Thursday, a kids fishing tournament on Saturday morning, in which each kid is given a tackle box full of tackle and, of course, the actual two-day Gov Cup that starts on Friday and ends Saturday.
“The governor’s cup has always tried to be that family event,” said Ozark.