By Heather Regula, Correspondent
Many Central Texans took advantage of the Superbowl LII bye week by attending the 42nd Annual Central Texas Boat Show, hosted by the Central Texas Marine Association. This event, organized by the CTMA (Central Texas Marine Association), boasted 55 vendors and exhibitors and took place Friday-Sunday, January 26-28. Temple-Belton Ladies Lions Club volunteers manned the doors and collected admission fees. In addition to vendors and exhibitors, the Central Texas Boat Show featured a fashion show, fishing tournaments, a kid zone, kid’s bow fishing, kid’s catfishing, and various seminars.
“Our attendance is up in both vendors and visitors this year. We start planning for this early and Lisle Meeker, a good friend of mine, helped me a lot with the logistics. We were fortunate enough to schedule our Boat Show on a bye weekend from football. I’ve been trying to get the show scheduled for this weekend for a few years, and it finally worked out,” explained Rick Smith, CTMA President. “The Boat Show works to draw attention to the boating lifestyle, and we always promote safe family boating. We appreciate the opportunity to give the vendors and exhibitors a place to come together. Many of our vendors have their best prices at the Boat Show. My absolute favorite part of the Boat Show is seeing the excitement and the happy faces of the families in attendance.”
Bingham Marine Texas, a small family business owned by Josh and Randi Bingham, was a first-time Boat Show vendor and they obtained their first sale of the new year this weekend.
“Both Josh and I have lived in Central Texas our whole lives, and we currently reside in Salado. This company has been in the making for several years – Josh has always dreamed of owning his own shop, and that became a reality in 2016. We are so very thankful and appreciative for all the support this community has shown us,” explained Randi Bingham.
“This is a good show – we’ve had great attendance early – I had customers coming in an hour before the show officially started. I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and interacting with other vendors,” stated Josh Bingham.
Rebecca and Averie Piatt, of Salado, were in attendance Saturday.
“Our friends own Bingham Marine, and we came out to support them and check out the rest of the show. We just bought 40 raffle tickets for $20 from the Centex Bass Hunters Club. Our family loves boating, tubing and just being able to get away from everything and to be out on the water,” remarked Rebecca Piatt.
The Centex Bass Hunters are a dedicated group of bass fishermen who focus on camaraderie, sportsmanship, and conservation. The Club services Central Texas and meets at 7 p.m. on the 1st Monday of each month, at the VFW near FM 2305 and Woodland Trail.
“We are the oldest bass club in Central Texas, and I’ve been a member for 19 years. Our club has a fishing tournament on the Saturday following the monthly meeting at various locations throughout the state,” stated Roy Smith. “Today is a big fundraiser for us – we are selling raffle tickets for $3 for 10, $5 for one, and $20 for an arm’s length of tickets! The best thing is coming out here and meeting people. We are greeting prospective anglers and just interacting with our community.”
Five-year-old Jackary Lizama, of Belton, enjoyed reeling in a catfish during the kid’s catfish event.
“My son and I love to go fishing – we go at least twice a week! In fact, that’s what we are going to do when we leave here. The 36 bridge is Jackary’s favorite place to go fishing. We’ve enjoyed this boat show,” said Paul Lizama.
Heroes on the Water, a national nonprofit organization founded in 2007, organizes no-cost fishing adventures for active duty military, veterans, first responders, and their families. The guided kayak fishing day trips provide relaxation and fishing as an alternative form of therapy. Participants receive instruction in necessary paddling skills, and kayak fishing. All levels of experience are welcome. The Fort Hood Chapter of Heroes on the Water can be found on Facebook @HOWFtHoodChapter, and more information about this organization can be found online at https://heroesonthewater.org/ .
“We are here this weekend to get the word out about our organization. I retired in 2014, and this is how I continue to serve. I’ve been involved in this group since the Chapter started three years ago,” explained Francisco Aguilar, Heroes on the Water Ft. Hood Chapter Coordinator. “Seeing a person catch their first fish is amazing. We are 100 percent donation driven, and we are so grateful to our sponsors.”