Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Banquet Breaks Organizational Records

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame continues to gain momentum, and at its recent annual induction ceremonies event at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium a record crowd celebrated the induction of Tommy Biffle, Kathy Fennel, Dewey Kendrick, Aaron Martens, Steve Quinn and Lonnie Stanley. The White River Conference Center ballroom was filled to capacity as interested parties and a “who’s who” of the fishing world mingled in furtherance of the Hall’s mission.

“The live and silent auctions produced more than $100,000, far exceeding our previous best efforts,” said Hall of Fame Board President John Mazurkiewicz. “All of the proceeds will be pumped back into our mission of celebrating, promoting and preserving the sport of bass fishing. We will continue to award much-needed conservation grants along with expanding and enhancing the Hall’s displays. Thanks to the bass fishing community’s extreme generosity we expect to be able to broaden our efforts going forward.”

More than 20 Hall of Famers were in attendance, wearing the distinctive blue blazers that distinguish them among their peers. Bill Dance, on the eve of his 82nd birthday, spoke glowingly about the importance of the bass fishing community, and the critical need to preserve the sport’s history: “Folks will come from all around and they will tour this beautiful Bass Fishing Hall of Fame and they will see your picture and look at your plaque and possibly read about your accomplishments for years and years to come,” he said. “Many will say, ‘Hey look up there at that picture. He was a keeper’ or ‘He was a good fella’…They were here to promote the great sport of fishing and like I said, they’ll be up there forever.”

For the third straight year, the majority of the auction items were available online, and winning bidders spanned coast-to-coast and also from Canada, but one highlight of the evening was the live auction featuring three one-of-a-kind prizes. The 325+ attendees bid vigorously on the assembled items, and generosity ran rampant. Rocky Kalsow was the talk of the room, as he submitted the winning bid for a two-day Bahamas bonefish trip with Hall inductees Johnny Morris and Kevin VanDam, along with noted saltwater guide Capt. Rick Murphy. VanDam and his fellow Hall-of-Famer Davy Hite assisted emcee Dave Mercer with the auctioneering duties.

“It was a magical night,” said Hall of Fame Vice President Daren Cole. “Not only did Johnny Morris provide us with the venue to celebrate our progress, but the Wonders of Wildlife has now pledged to expand our footprint within their building. That will allow us to display the artifacts we’ve accumulated and to explain the sport’s significance to a broader audience.”

B.A.S.S., Major League Fishing and Phoenix Boats were the presenting sponsors of the induction activities. The event also received support from Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s, Wired2fish, PRADCO Outdoor Brands, AFTCO, Daiwa, Rapala, Shimano, Rather Outdoors, In-Fisherman, St. Croix, Costa’s Compete & Conserve program, Simms, and the Bass Fishing Archives. Many other fishing/outdoor brands contributed to the online auction, as did 75+ MLF and B.A.S.S. pro anglers in donating jerseys, signed lures and fishing trips.

Information on next year’s event taking place on Thursday, Sept. 28 will be available in early 2023. More details about the Hall and its mission are available at www.BassFishingHOF.com, or by contacting BFHOF executive director Barbara Bowman at bbowman@bassfishinghof.com.

About the BFHOF

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization led by a volunteer board of directors and is dedicated to celebrating, promoting and preserving the sport of bass fishing. Since 2017, the Hall’s inductees and memorabilia representing the history of bass fishing is showcased in Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri, where it has rapidly become a popular destination. For more information about the Hall, its mission, and to become a supporting member, visit www.BassFishingHOF.com, or contact BFHOF executive director Barbara Bowman at bbowman@bassfishinghof.com.