Saturday, July 13th, 2013
Governor's Cup Regatta canceled again
Officials cite lack of sponsorships
By Margie Wuebker
CELINA - The Governor's Cup Regatta on Grand Lake has been canceled for the third time in four years.
Race co-chairmen Myron Buxton and Scott Anderson made the announcement Friday afternoon, citing a lack of sponsorship dollars for the Aug. 24-Aug. 25 event.
"The economy has been down the past couple years," Buxton told The Daily Standard. "Donations have decreased or trickled down to nothing ... not just here but all over."
Several major sponsors like the Ohio Lottery and Firebird Formula Racing Boats of Decatur, Ind., have backed out in recent years with no one filling the gap. Additionally, the event no longer benefits from a Pepsi contract that yielded a total of $21,000 split equally by the city, the Lake Festival and the regatta.
The decision was made during a Thursday night committee meeting.
"We sent out sponsorship packages to big dollar contributors and they did not come back," Buxton added. "We couldn't wait to the last minute to back out and taking out a loan was not an option anyone wanted to pursue."
The regatta committee has seen some contributors give support elsewhere, including lake restoration efforts. Those efforts are also important to the area, he said.
The regatta was recognized by the American Power Boat Association as a premier event that drew racers from throughout the country and as far away as New Zealand. Participants especially liked the course because of its proximity to spectators that lined the banks, Buxton said.
Pam Buschur, director of the Celina Mercer County Chamber of Commerce, hated to hear news of the cancellation.
"It's hard when big sponsors back out," she said. "People don't realize the expense involved in putting on an event like the regatta. I want to thank the committee for all its hard work and hope sponsorship returns next year."
Donna Grube, executive director of the Auglaize-Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau and a member of the regatta committee, called the decision "difficult and heart-breaking."
"The regatta brings thousands and thousands of people to the area and it serves as a showcase for the lake," Grube added. "People at the travel shows I attend come up and tell me how much they like the regatta."
Earlier this year, co-chairman Scott Anderson said the motto of the regatta is "Free Family Fun," pointing out there are not many events that are free, especially in motor sports.
Grube said committee members remain committed to moving on and bringing the event back in 2014. In the meantime, the search for sponsors will continue.
Buxton had been looking forward to participating in the regatta on more than a committee basis. He was planning to race his hydroplane in Celina for the first time.
"There's always next year," he said.
The regatta was canceled in 2010 due to blue-green algae toxins in the lake.
In 2011, the regatta hosted the 2012 APBA Inboard World Championships, drawing large crowds as well as praise from racers and spectators alike, Grube said.
Unseasonably dry weather in 2012 forced cancellation of the event because of low water levels.