CELINA — The 2011 Governor’s Cup Regatta capped off a summer of successful events held at Grand Lake St. Marys, adding to the recovery of tourism at Grand Lake St. Marys.
The annual event, which was canceled last year because of water quality issues at the lake, was a success this year, bringing excited racers and spectators alike to the area. Co-chair Allen Baskett said the success of the event showed the enthusiasm of the committee and the community for the race.
“We’re just as pleased as we can be,” Baskett said. “It’s been a tough struggle for us the past few years, especially last year with everything that has taken place, but the committee has worked very hard, and I think today is absolutely confirmation of the enthusiasm of the committee and the support and enthusiasm of this community for wanting to bring this race back and making sure everybody knows that last year was a hiccup — it wasn’t business as usual. This year we’re back to doing what this committee does — hosting a first-class inboard hydroplane race on Grand Lake St. Marys.”
Baskett noted that the race drew a good crowd.
“The crowd today (Sunday) is tremendous, and the vendors are running out of food,” he said. “Everything that you want to see happening at an event like this is happening. People are having a good time, the racers are having a good, safe day, and everybody seems to be enjoying themselves.”
While he said it was hard to put an exact number on how many people attended the weekend of racing, Baskett said the event typically draws approximately 30,000 spectators.
“I think once everything is said and done, those numbers will be pretty consistent,” he said. “Yesterday (Saturday) was a pretty good turnout, a good crowd, and today (Sunday) seems to be even better.”
He noted that spectators traveled from four surrounding states.
“We’ve got people here not just from our area, we’ve got people from Indiana, West Virginia, Michigan, Kentucky and places farther north, east, south and west,” Baskett said. “They come here because they like this community. They like how they are treated. The racers love coming here. They like the way we run things here.”
Baskett said the Governor’s Cup Regatta was one of several steps in the right direction taken this summer to bring people back to Grand Lake St. Marys.
“I think this whole summer has been a step in the right direction,” he said. “Our community and the communities around Auglaize and Mercer counties have had their festivals and especially those that are held right around the lake — the Lake Festival and the Freedom Days Festival — both of those went off without any major issues and they had good crowds.”
The race, Baskett said, was positive for the lake.
“It shows people that there really are a lot of positive things happening with our lake, and I think these efforts will just continue to fuel the enthusiasm of the community to make the lake better,” he said. “We’ve got the Lake Improvement group down here showing people what they’re doing, and people are asking questions, and there’s nothing better than an informed public. As long as we continue to make these positive efforts, I think the lake is going to get better. It helps the economy, it helps tourism and it just helps everybody add to the quality of life here in Auglaize and Mercer counties.”
Baskett said the committee will soon discuss what went well and what they can improve for next year’s regatta.
“Our committee doesn’t want to get too complacent,” he said. “Every year we just try to polish that apple a little bit more and see what we can add to the event and how we can make things run smoother. We’ll be back next year. We’ll have another great event and hopefully bring more boats and more people here.”