The Tulsa Chamber of Commerce predicted 100,000 people will come through Tulsa for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, and it appears they were on target.
On both Saturday and Sunday the BOK center in downtown Tulsa was filled to capacity and angler fans were turned away.
The center seats 14,000 and then at least another 24,000 people went through the convention center on Saturday alone. The event was free all weekend so it was first come, first serve.
“We have to comply with the fire marshal safety standards so that means we cannot take more than 14,000 otherwise if something happens we need to know we can get everyone out safely,” said Tulsa police officer Craig Murray.
The first person in line arrived at 11:30 a.m. The line lasted for almost four hours.
“I was worried we wouldn’t get inside because we got here at 2:00p.m. driving from Bella Vista, Arkansas,” said one family of angler fans.
“I saw the line and thought there was no way we were all going to fit inside, but thank goodness we made it,” said another relieved fan.
“I traveled here from Zimbabwe to see my friend Gerry Jooste compete!” said Kevin Elkington. “We are so proud of him to be competing all the way from home with these local guys and keeping up with them!”
Not everyone got to see the final weigh-ins.
“They shut the door on us,” said a couple of fans.
“I got here too late and had to bite the bullet,” said another fan who waited to see if BOK security would let him inside after some people left.
The official charity for the Bassmaster is now the Folds of Honor Foundation. It is a local organization that raises money for military families who have made sacrifices for the United States of America.
They raised $25,000 through the weekend. That money goes to scholarships for veterans’ children.