CEDAR ISLAND —Organizers of the Sarah James Fulcher Redfish Tournament started out last year looking to create a small event, and it turned into something big.
This year, they’re looking to create a big event, so … look out.
It will be held Friday and Saturday at the Cedar Island Resort and include live music, food, vendors, camping, silent auctions and other sales.
Plans began on the inaugural tournament just three weeks prior, and when the dust settled, 235 fishermen on 65 boats had participated, over 500 people had attended and more than $45,000 raised.
“It exploded,” said Stephanie Fulcher, one of the tournament organizers. “We got started three weeks out and thought we would have 30 to 50 people, or something like that, and it blew up. We raised $45,000, and this year, we’re expecting a lot more, a whole lot more.”
The event acts as the flagship fundraiser for Another Perspective, a non-profit organization used to raise funds for community-level projects that are inclusive, needed and promote recreation in the outdoors.
Another Perspective was launched in 2017 to honor the memory of Fulcher’s niece, Sara James, the daughter of James and Brooke Fulcher. Sarah James died July 9, 2017 at the age of 9 from semilobar holoprosencephaly, an abnormality of brain development in which the frontal lobes don't properly divide into right and left hemispheres.
“Everybody loved Sarah,” Fulcher said. “When she went into a room, she lit it up. She couldn’t speak or walk, but she spoke with her eyes and her smile. She touched everybody she met. So many people came out to support the family because of her, even if they didn’t fish.”
Fulcher’s boyfriend, Hunter Parks, came up with the idea for the catch-and-release tournament, and the organizers’ labor has already bore fruit.
On June 27, Another Perspective, in partnership with the Carteret County Parks and Recreation, installed a handicap-accessible, inclusive play set at Eastern Park in Smyrna. The play set, named in Sarah James’ honor, allows handicapped children to play alongside other children.
“I think people have already seen where the money went, and now more people are interested in giving and helping,” Fulcher said. “So many families have a special needs member.”
Another Perspective is currently pursuing partnerships and avenues to complete a full inclusive play set, as well as complete installations at other county parks.
“This is just the first phase,” Fulcher said. “We want to do more. Carteret County Parks and Rec has been a huge help to us, guiding us, giving us contacts. We want to accomplish a lot over the next few years.”
The second annual event has taken on the feel of a festival with a fishing tournament thrown in.
There will be music and a food truck on the premises Friday from 6-10 p.m., and there will be free food Saturday, as well as a silent auction that will run from noon-5 p.m. It’s also a kid-friendly event with inflatable slides on hand.
Fishing goes from 6-10 p.m. Saturday with an awards ceremony to follow.
Musical acts on Friday and Saturday have a few coming in from Nashville, Tenn., including Nikki Lane, Whiskey Wolves of the West and Channing Wilson. Local artist Bryan McCoury and the band Thorn, will also perform.
Anglers will need to attend a captains meeting at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Cedar Island Resort’s main tent. This is a mandatory meeting for all tournament participants. Specific items for documenting catches will be handed out at the meeting.
Awards for the longest red drum will be given out to first- and second-place anglers.
There will also be a kid’s prize for the longest red drum caught by anyone 14 and under, as well as a lady angler prize.
In addition, there will be a Ramsey Family Calcutta prize that can be won by any angler.
Last year’s first-place winner and victor of the Calcutta prize was Alejandro Merizalde of New Bern who took home an $8,100 prize, thanks to his 52-inch catch.
Registration for adult anglers is $50 and $35 for kids (14 and under).
Ramsey Family Calcutta registration is $100. Anglers must be registered for the regular fishing tournament to participate in the Calcutta.