“We’re at the same venue as last year, the new Weipa Showgrounds precinct, but this time you’ll get to see it in full flight,” said president Aaron Schleich.
“The committee did a great job last year to put on an event in a year that saw most things cancelled, but it was still largely a virtual event and we didn’t have most of the elements that make the Weipa Fishing Classic a great show.
“This year we’re back and it’s going to be a great family event.”
Normally held in June, the 2020 version was staged on the weekend of October 30 and November 1 in a bid to keep the event running and beat the pandemic.
This year’s event will be held on a 10-month turnaround and next year’s should be back in the traditional time slot.
“Going from November to June this year was too short of a turnaround for a volunteer committee and the suppliers. Even this year we have been racing against the clock,” Mr Schleich said.
First prize in the major raffle, a 5.2 metre Aluvan Razor plate vessel, will only just make it to Weipa in time for the Fishing Classic.
“It was on a truck to Cairns and there was a breakdown about 90 minutes out of town. Hawkins Transport, who was providing the freight from Cairns to Weipa, even held their truck for us so that it could get on,” Mr Schleich said.
“That’s the best thing about the Weipa Fishing Classic – it is a genuine locals event, supported by local people and businesses.”
With a local public holiday gazetted for Friday, the 2021 version starts on Thursday night and closes with the major prize draw on Saturday night.
“We have entertainment on every night and there will be plenty of activities for the kids. Remember that the Weipa Fishing Classic is a free event to attend, the key rings only get you into the major prize draw,” the president said.
Of course, the event is still about the fishing.
Conditions haven’t been great in Weipa this month and that could remain the same this weekend.
Darren Redman from DJ’s Xstream Fishing Charters said locals might have to hit up the estuaries in order to find cover.
“Hopefully there’s a bit of a break in the weather and anglers can get out onto the reefs for a bit of fun,” he said.
“If you go early and come home early you might beat some of the nasty afternoon winds.”
The Thursday Island Water Police will have a presence over the weekend, while the fisheries department will also be making random stops to ensure people are safe and compliant.
The road policing unit is also back in town.
“It’s a big weekend for the community and we encourage everyone to be safe on the water and on the road. We definitely don’t want to hear of any drink drivers coming from the Weipa Fishing Classic,” Mr Schleich said.
With over $120,000 in prizes in the major prize raffle, the top 20 will be drawn out across the three nights, with the winner to be announced late on Saturday.
Five will be drawn on Thursday, a further 10 on Friday and the final five on Saturday.
Key ring holders will need to be present in order to win prizes.
All the information is on the Weipa Fishing Classic website.