QUINCY -- Fishing for Freedom organizers are still in need of volunteer boaters to assist with the three-day event in June.
More boats are needed to ensure the expected 200 visiting veterans will be able to enjoy a day on either the Mississippi River or Mark Twain Lake.
Fishing for Freedom treats U.S. veterans and active-duty military personnel to a weekend of catfish-crappie-bass competition and provides hotel rooms, a fish fry, band concert and banquet for free. This year's event is scheduled June 2 to June 4.
"It's a bit of a commitment (for the volunteer boaters), but it's minor (compared) to what these veterans committed to," Fishing for Freedom spokesman Randy Gengenbacher said.
Gengenbacher said the event is about 30 boats shy of the 175 or more needed. Boaters came from seven different states in 2016.
He said organizers would like to fill the list of needed volunteer boaters by May 15.
"The logistics for something like this is always tough, but to see the sheer joy on the faces of some of the veterans makes it all worthwhile," Gengenbacher said. "It's a full weekend for all of the veterans."
Gengenbacher said there is a waiting list of about 25 veterans who want to participate in Fishing for Freedom.
"Normally we're always able to take care of everyone because some of the veterans have to back out for one reason or another. ... It all seems to work out each year," he said.
A year ago, there were a record 193 veterans who participated, but Gengenbacher thinks this year's total will reach the 200 mark.
"We want to try and take care of everyone who wants to fish," he said.
Fishing for Freedom's first Quincy-based event was in 2011. The local competition remains one of the largest in the nation. Only the event near Fort Hood, Texas, has higher attendance, thanks to the 63,000 servicemen and servicewomen who live or serve there.
For more information about the Quincy Fishing for Freedom, event go tofishingforfreedomquincy.org or call 217-779-3811.