Each year the Annual Catfish Derby draws about 1,000 fishing enthusiasts and their families to Clearlake Oaks. Unfortunately, the much-anticipated event has been canceled for this year.
Previously scheduled for May 15 – 17, the Derby was postponed to August 21 – 23.
“When COVID-19 Shelter in Place orders were issued in March, we postponed the event to August,” said event chairman, Dennis Locke. “At the time we hoped that by late summer things would be back to normal. We now understand that events drawing large crowds of the size we get for the Derby are not likely to be approved any time soon. We had to let applicants know one way or the other,” he said.
Additionally, the Derby Planning Committee had to make other decisions related to issuing refunds, returning advertising income, and deciding how to deal with various upfront costs associated with hosting the large event. “It was a tough call, we had done a lot of upfront work, but the writing was on the wall,” Locke said.
The planning committee, including several members of the Clearlake Oaks-Glenhaven Business Association, who sponsors the Derby each year, agreed that cancelling was the only logical decision.
Camille Gouldberg, President of the Business Association, explained that the Annual Catfish Derby is the signature fund-raising event of the association, with all proceeds going right back into the community.
“These sad circumstances have a ripple effect. We won’t have as much money to support our local school activities, our senior center, and other worthy activities we traditionally support. We’re disappointed, but not deterred,” Gouldberg said.
The Catfish Derby supports the local economy in a number of ways, from boosting sales at bait & tackle shops to coffee houses, restaurants, hotels, resorts, casinos, wine tasting rooms and more. Known as the biggest Catfish Derby west of the Mississippi, this year’s Derby would have marked 37 years.
For many – locals and out of towners – the event has become is a highly anticipated and cherished family tradition. Last year, despite heavy rains, the event drew a crowd of over 1000. “The Derby energizes our little town and draws volunteers from all over Lake County to both join in on the festivities and make sure we put on the best Derby experience possible,” Locke said. “It’s a family affair and we will definitely miss our friends from near and far.”
“It’s important to thank everyone that helped get ready for this year, especially Dennis Locke, who, as in previous years, has poured his heart and soul into organizing the event,” Gouldberg said.
As for Locke, he said cancelling the Derby was the right thing to do. “The uncertainty in the county’s COVID-19 reopening progress for large events and our continuing concern for the health and safety of derby participants and county residents made our decision for us,” he said. “Not to worry, we’ll be back.”
The 2021 Derby has been scheduled for May 14 – 16. Pre-registered derby contestants, sponsors and advertisers have been notified of the cancellation. To stay informed about Derby planning for 2021, visit the website: www.clearlakeoaks.org/derby or call 707-596-0248.