Wood County to Host a Blowout Four-Day Experience at Lake Fork

By Brynna Williamson

You’ve heard the proverb, “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Well, the competitors at the upcoming AFTCO Bassmaster Elite fishing tournament and Lake Fork Family Fest event hope that there will be plenty of big fish in Wood County’s Lake Fork, too.

The Bassmaster Elite tourney, which will be held Thursday, February 29 through Sunday, March 3, 2024, is nothing to turn up one’s nose at. The four-day experience is a huge, blow-out event that took Wood County Economic Development Commission (WCEDC) officials months to plan, organize, schedule, and market. According to Christine Thomas, Executive Director of the WCEDC, 2024’s festival took the planning committee five months to carry out.

“It is such an honor for Wood County to host this event,” said Thomas in a WCEDC news release about the event. “We have invested a lot of resources in making this one of the premier events in East Texas. We have put additional resources into marketing and branding the event, along with the efforts made by B.A.S.S. Events to get the word out to everyone in Northeast Texas, Southern Oklahoma, Southwest Arkansas, and Northwest Louisiana.”

Their efforts, and those of their partners at the Sabine River Authority (SRA), have borne fruit. Together, WCEDC and SRA officials estimate that between 3,000 to 4,000 people will attend the four-day event. Not to worry, however; there will be plenty of room for all! In fact, for the first time ever, the Bassmaster Elite fishing tourney will be taking place at the brand-new SRA marina at the Caney Point Recreation Area on Lake Fork. This phenomenal, recently completed facility boasts a six-lane boat ramp, paved public parking, restroom facilities, and a giant lakeside pavilion, among other amenities.

Tom Keenan, Chairman of the WCEDC board, said that hosting both the Bassmaster tourney and the Lake Fork Family Fest at the new SRA facility means that 2024’s festival will include “a pickleball tournament; cornhole tournament; vendors; food trucks; and a coffee, wine, and beer garden; as well as a protected, covered area in case of inclement weather.”

“This is the first real event for the new facility, and we’re really trying to kick it off with a bang,” Keenan added.

This event is sure to be a success given how many people had a hand in making it happen. It would be difficult to estimate exactly how many individuals contributed to make the 2024 Bassmaster / Lake Fork Family Fest a reality, but at least four organizations pitched in. The WCEDC took the time, manpower, and efforts to host the event. The SRA, which owns and manages the lake, partnered with the WCEDC to have the event at Lake Fork, which is the premier bass fishing lake in the country and which has the record for 34 of the Texas top 50 bass. The Caney Point Recreation Area worked with officials to ensure that the event excels. And, importantly, the Pilot Club of Quitman—a nonprofit charity “dedicated to improving the lives of people in the community”—volunteered to coordinate all of the sponsorships for the tournament.

Through the Pilot Club, whose all-volunteer staff pledge to improve the community “with great fun and friendship-making along the way,” individuals or organizations can sponsor this high-attendance event in exchange for some promotional benefits. According to the 2024 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Tournament’s news release, sponsorships range from “$25 for food and merchandise vendors all the way up to $5,000 for the top family festival sponsorship.” All interested parties can find out more information by contacting the Pilot Club at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Bassmaster tournament itself has a long and time-honored history. B.A.S.S., according to the Bassmaster website, goes back to 1967, while the Elite Series tournaments go back to 2006.

In its 17 years of growth, the Elite Series has become a huge, nationwide extravaganza, having created 18 million minutes of streamed content for the tournament, 15.5 million social media “impressions,” and millions of dollars in economic impact. It should be no surprise, then, that the Bassmaster Elite Tournament page claims that “the Bassmaster Elite Series is the highest level of professional bass fishing tournaments. The pro anglers compete all season for the opportunity to win points toward the Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year award and to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic.”

Elite, indeed!

If you’ve already heard something about the Bassmaster Elite Tournament or the Lake Fork Family Fest—having noticed it in newspaper ads, billboards, radio spots, and news stories across East Texas—it’s because Wood County officials are really putting their shoulders behind promoting this event. They want to make it the best it can be, both for the attendees of the event and for their Wood County constituents. The solution? Put their all into letting people know about the event.

“We’re bringing first-class entertainment to residents, who can enjoy the fishing tournament and participate in the accompanying festival,” said Thomas. “It is also an opportunity to showcase Lake Fork, which is one of the premier bass fishing lakes in the nation. Finally, it represents a significant boost in tourism dollars, which trickles down to every resident in Wood County.”

The Lake Fork Family Fest will be bigger and better than ever this year. While in previous years the festival was relegated to the last two days of the fishing tournament, in 2024, it will be all four days to coincide with the tournament itself. Featuring a number of completely different types of activities, the festival will have something to offer to everyone in the family.

For the first time ever, the Lake Fork Family Fest will be headlined by none other than country music legend Neal McCoy. McCoy, who is known for his Number One hits such as “Wink,” “No Doubt About It,” and for his other huge hits like “The Shake,” hails from Longview. According to the MM Group Entertainment website, McCoy has sold more than six million albums. But you’re in luck: attendees to the Family Fest can come and enjoy McCoy’s music for free in 2024. In fact, the whole event is free, from the aforementioned events to the vendors, catfish tank, and creature teacher.

Saturday, March 2 will also see some amazing activities. Musician Eric George will be giving a live concert. Chef Tyler Brown with Fusion in the Woods will be doing a live cooking demonstration and sample giveaway that day also. Brown says that he plans to do a seafood demonstration in honor of the Bassmaster Elite Tournament. With items on Fusion in the Woods’ menu such as Cajun blackened fish with cream sauce and creole shrimp with white cheddar green chili grits, this live cooking demonstration is guaranteed to be mouth-watering good.

Given the stellar activities available, the perfect location, and the massive popularity of the event, the WCEDC is expecting tremendous attendance at the Bassmaster tourney / Lake Fork Family Fest. Don’t miss out on the fun!

For more details, visit LakeForkFamilyFest.com