Winter king tourney kicks off busy season

Greetings from your Homer Chamber of Commerce. Three things of note this month. By this time next week, our new Harbor Webcam will be up and running. You’ll see the link on our homepage We thank SPITwSPOTS for their sponsorship of free Internet and Harbor Webcam, and Don Jose’s and Harbor Grill for Webcam placement on their building.

On Saturday, the chamber hosted the 21st annual Winter King Contest and it was one for the books. As far as angler numbers (906) and boats (270), it was the second best turnout ever. The 202 fish caught rank as the third best catch. We couldn’t have had better weather for March, and participants showed up at Coal Point headquarters with smiles on their faces. 

We did have some hiccups (where was the beer?), but all in all, the day went smoothly. I am very grateful for a great staff, helpful volunteers and outstanding sponsors.

GCI has stepped up their sponsorship for the chamber this year, underwriting TV advertising on KTVA 11 (the CBS affiliate in Anchorage which they recently bought) and their 59 cable networks. Did you see our great TV ads? GCI wanted to make a bigger commitment to the chamber and our town and is giving us more than $100,000 in advertising which will be spread across our “Big Three” events: the Winter King Salmon Tournament, the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, and the Jackpot Halibut Derby. Almost $40,000 in TV ads went towards the Winter King Tournament alone. GCI is a great supporter of our town.

I can’t say enough about Nancy Hillstrand and her crew at Coal Point. Having that great facility for tournament headquarters just makes this event one of professional caliber. Scott Ulmer and his crew pitch in finding the wide range of prizes for our 11-20 place winners, and the “bellringer” prizes. The Mitchells came through for us by producing the first NOMAR’s Champion’s Vest. We’ll continue to give the vest away to the winner of the tournament as a piece of gear they can brag about all year long.

We noticed the increase in traffic to our merchants this weekend, everyone from Safeway to Starvin’ Marvin’s. Our longtime tournament committee members remind me that’s why the tournament was started: to give a shot in the arm to our economy, and officially start the fishing season.

Registration for this year’s Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival has opened online. Please note that we’ve gone to a ticketing solution for all the festival events. To attend the 2014 festival, participants pay an initial $19.50 festival fee that gives them access to their registration profile. After receiving an email confirmation of the registration purchase, registrants receive a second email with a unique user name and password that is then used to login into the menu of events and buy tickets.

Having a user name/password also allows registrants to return to add more, or cancel, events. The option to add family members for $5 each is also available during event signup. 

A one-time ticketing surcharge of $4.50 is included in the festival fee. These fees help cover general operating and ticketing expenses of the Shorebird Festival and allow us to continue to offer events and activities at low, or no, price. Formerly “free” presentations and walks are included in the registration fee, unless otherwise noted.

The registration fees also ensure that the number of seats for an event is updated so participants know what is available to take part in. Many “free” events have a seat maximum, and this ensures that the event is fair to the event leader and the participants.

Participants will be asked to show a confirmation of their registration to an event at the door. You can pick up your finalized tickets and festival badge at the Chamber’s  Visitor Center, which is the Shorebird Festival headquarters.

Thank you for support in helping the festival remain a self-sustainable event, year after year. And my best spring wishes to you all.

Jim Lavrakas is the executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce.