Doug and Paula Tidwell, from Thomaston, Georgia, sat at their Nana and Buck’s tent in the parking lot of C-Quarters Marina, selling their freshly fried pork rinds.
Next to them was a tent of BBQ from Michael “Rabbit” Urquhart and his crew.
Together they helped raise a modest amount of money at the 16th annual Kingfish Shootout at C-Quarters Marina last weekend, a couple more splashes in a fundraising bucket that by event’s end, thanks to lots of other donors, sponsors and 54 competing teams, would be brimming with more than $43,520.
This bucket would be the latest in 16 annual buckets of money the shoot-out has produced for the Leukemia Research Foundation, the Northfield, Illinois-based research leader in the fight to conquer all blood cancers.
C-Quarter’s owner Jimmy Crowder’s daughter, Lisa Crowder Jackson, was a casualty of that disease nearly two decades ago, and since then, in her memory, the annual shootout has raised more than $1.04 million that goes directly to fund research in vanquishing the disease.
And of course, the shootout has attracted angler from throughout the region, vying for big money, and this year was no exception.
Fifty-four boats took the challenge, and when it was all over Sunday evening, the winner of the $5,000 grand prize, for a 37-pound, 4-ounce king landed by Jessica Welch, was the team of Bill Collector, out of Crawfordville.
Welch and husband Todd were aboard, together with Capt. Page Pittman, David Bramblett, from Crystal River, and Jerry Brinkley, from Panacea.
The team had won two years ago as well, and Welch caught her winner Saturday, weighing in at just about a pound more than runner-up Out Gunned, which pocketed $4,000, and Peavy and Sons Construction, which caught a 30-pound, 7-ounce for third and $3,000.
In fourth was Freedom Corner, which won $2,000 for a 28-pound, 8-ounce king, and in fifth was Fish Tales, which won $1,000 for a fish about two pounds under that.
In sixth through 10th place, nailing prizes of $500 on down, were Cornerstone Masonry (25-pounds 8-ounces), Bottom Tickler (25 pounds), Newsome (24-pounds 5-ounces), 10-4 BBQ (23-pounds 8 ounces) and Saltwater Cowboys (22-pounds 5-ounces)
Raffles paid a big part in the event, with the big one, the $100 ticket one for a 19-foot Nautic Star, from Big Bend Marine, in Perry, won by Justin Wayne Cohoon, from Carrabelle, who had gone fishing with his sons Justin Lee Cohoon and Dakota Wayne Cohoon. That team, named Renegade, also took first in the Spanish mackerel competition, for a 5-pound 7-ounce catch. That netted Renegade $2,000, with second place going to Max Lawhon, with team Yes Dear, for a 5-pounder.
The youth angler was won by Jada Bedford, for her 28 pound, 8-ounce king, which she landed with the fourth-place Freedom Corner team. The Lady Angler went to Jessica Welch, and they both won a complete kingfish tackle outfit, with rod and reel, from Coastal Angler magazine.
The handmade grill, donated by the Ronald Hayes family once again, was won by Tommy and Rhonda Hilliard, from Big Slough Farms, from Camellia, Georgia.
Event organizer Mary Lawhon, who has worked the tourney for a dozen years, said in addition to the grill, the Hayes family donated $21,000 in raffle ticket revenue, and Boat Outfitters, out of Ocoee, donated $12,000 in custom made boating accessories. She said that overall the shootout brought in over 500 pounds of kingfish, and over 50 pounds of Spanish mackerel.
And of course there was the money the Tidwells’ pork rind stand and Urquhart’s BBQ stand donated, which together was about $1,000, and that didn’t come easy.
Turns out the Turkey Creek’s Snacks had delivered the Tidwells a 70-pound box of cracklings, not skins. But that got it straightened out in time to do what they love to do, help out with fundraisers such as this.