Guests had the opportunity to bid on silent auction items and participate in the “Fishing for Fun” Raffle. The big items included a John Deere Gator and a Polaris Sportsman 500 ATV along with many once in a lifetime race weekend and country music industry experiences.
Returning this year were hand-painted dog/cat bowls and treat jars painted by the employees of the Ryan Newman Foundation and Ryan Newman Motorsports. Money raised from the pottery auction will be used to help vaccinate and sterilize dogs and cats in the surrounding area.
The event had a country winter theme and was managed by JHE Productions of Harrisburg, NC. New additions included an outside Presenting Sponsor VIP tent fit for a Kim Kardashian herself. The area provided plush white couches and glass tables with all the right touches for guests to relax and mingle with Ryan and Krissie before the doors opened to the public.
A mammoth ice sculpture was the feature attraction hosting a dog, cat, fish and deer circling the Foundation logo and was surrounded by a large candy bar that was transformed into a dessert bar after dinner. Guests also walked the red carpet and took photos with Ryan and Krissie and the photo booths were a crowd favorite for the second year in a row.
Bass Pro Shops and Bassmaster presented the charity fishing tournament hosting 148 teams, all competing for a Nitro Z9 Bass Boat equipped with a motor, trolling motor, electronics and matching trailer. Lake levels were extremely low, but the anglers unloaded and took to the water from Blythe Landing on Lake Norman in Huntersville, NC.
Four-time Bassmaster Champion and seven-time Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam and Bassmaster Elite Series emcee and Outdoor Channel host Mark Zona were the tournament emcees for the second year in a row. The two kept the participants and the crowd on their feet while the anglers weighed-in. Kevin even signed autographs for fans prior to weigh-in at the Bass Pro Shops display.
This year’s tournament winners were Travis Rulle from Huntersville, NC and his father Don Rulle from Longmont, CO. They weighed in five fish for a total weight of 16 pounds and 4 ounces.
“Krissie and I appreciate everyone who participates in the fishing tournament,” said Ryan Newman. “The weather was perfect or as Kevin said, we had Chamber of Commerce Weather. The 70 degree day didn’t make the fishing any better though. December is tough and normally our tournament takes anywhere from 11 – 16 pounds to win and that’s what we got with Travis and his dad. It declined rapidly after that.
“I am glad Kevin and Mark were able to make it back this year because I think the angers and fans watching enjoy their banter back and forth on stage with the fishermen.”
Second place trophies were taken home by Cliff Kirby from Catawba, NC and Rick Dunstan from Pinehurst, NC weighing in five fish at 12 pounds, 12 ounces. Third place went to Shane LeHew from Charlotte, NC and Adam Yates from Denver, NC. They had five weighing in at 12 pounds, 7 ounces.
Outback Steakhouse, who is a primary sponsor on Ryan’s No. 39 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet, hosted a rib and chicken dinner to over 400 anglers and fans. Sponsors of the event and local businesses were given the opportunity to meet with the public, sample products and give out information and items from their companies.
John Deere had their newest products on display, Oral B gave away bags of toothpaste and Kraft Foods sampled Oreo and Ritz products. Other venders included: Visit Lake Norman, Humane Society of Iredell County, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Silpada Jewelry, Parks Chevrolet, PhDs Woodworking and the Ryan Newman Foundation. Kids had their own area to play in with lots of free giveaways, games and inflatable’s to enjoy while listening to live music provided by WAME Radio in Statesville. Over 1,000 people visited the boat ramp to show their support of the annual tournament.
While the anglers were on the water, Ryan hosted a luncheon cruise on a luxury yacht. This was a nice way for sponsors to see the beautiful scenery Lake Norman has to offer and view some of the teams attempting to reel that big one in.
“I didn’t know what to think of the yacht event, but it turned out to be a good thing for our sponsors,” said Newman. “Fishing isn’t like a golf tournament. It can be frustrating and you have to have patience, and most of all, be up at the crack of dawn which most people don’t want to do after our event. It was a good way for them to have someone on one time with me and check out Lake Norman. It’s something I think we’ll do again next year.”