Panama City Beach, FL--it's safe to say there are a lot of folks who will be missing what's "not" happening in Panama City Beach this week.
This week the folks at the Bay Point Marina should be working hard to put the final touches on the 29th Bay Point Invitational. Instead, the Marina there this week is active with it's usual business, but not bustling with pre-tournament set up.
That's because the St. Joe Company decided to at least suspend the event this year, after ending it's contract with the company that had been managing the marina, as well as the event.
The void this week certainly being felt by Bay Point Marina Director Steve Arndt in particular.
"This early in the week there's a whole lot of preparation going on.' says Arndt. "There is electrical wire being run, there's tents being put up, there is a plethora of trash cans going out. And just when, as soon as we think we're just about getting ready, then the boats start showing up. And we start pumping fuel and the phone is ringing off the hook and everybody is going in a million directions, and hanging up banners. And it's a lot of work. And strangely I miss it, I miss it tremendously."
And if the feedback he's been getting, and continues to get, is any indication, Steve's not alone in missing the event and all that surrounded it.
"They're missing everything, really is what I'm hearing. It really was such a big event for such a long time. Two generations in Bay County grew up coming to the Invitational and that's really what they miss. It's a certain part of the year that they always knew what they were gonna be doing, they were coming to Bay Point Marina, to be part of the tournament. And with that gone, they kind of don't know what to do."
Steve's thoughts there echoed by Wil Wilson, who with his family, has fished Bay Point since it's inception aboard a boat called "Wynsong". We'll hear from Wil later in the week. Some very strong thoughts from him indeed.