MARINETTE — The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a rainy Saturday likely dealt a bit of a blow for those who follow the annual Cabela's Masters Walleye Circuit fishing tournament, held last weekend off Menekaunee Harbor in Green Bay.
But the participants came through with robust attendance.
“While the community participation was low due to COVID-19, the anglers were out in full force,” said Melissa Ebsch, Marinette’s director of Tourism & Marketing.
Indoor events, including the welcoming dinner banquet at the Community REC Center, were eliminated this year. And food vendors at the harbor were prohibited.
Still, what Ebsch described as a typical an economic boost was the result of an event that brought 75 boats and 150 participants. She estimated that each visitor spends an average of 7.4 days in town when combining the pre-tournament fishing and the actual event, taking up an average of nearly 600 local hotel rooms per night.
She said history shows the average angler spends $1,470 per visit, and the overall impact of the two-day event averages more than $775,000.
“I noticed the parking lots of the hotel rooms in town were pretty full,” said Jacqueline Boudreau, executive director of the Marinette Menominee Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Best Western Riverfront Inn reported a 60% capacity for the weekend.
Ironworks on Main, a restaurant accustomed to fishing patronage during the tournament, reported a 35% increase in its Saturday business and 25% on Sunday.
And Menominee’s Downtown Sandwich Shop, historically a common gathering spot for the anglers, reported a 20% increase on the weekend.