Morehead City businesses gearing up for big crowds, return to normal at Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament – WNCT


Morehead City businesses gearing up for big crowds, return to normal at Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament – WNCT

by: Kayla Schmidt Posted: Jun 9, 2021 / 07:53 PM EDT / Updated: Jun 9, 2021 / 07:54 PM EDT

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MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) — It’s that time of the year again, when crowds take over Morehead City for the biggest event in the city of the year.

The 63rd Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is right around the corner. Businesses have been preparing for the influx of people, a welcome change from a year ago when the COVID-19 pandemic put a limit on many activities surrounding the big event.

Between adjusting hours and hiring more staff, the restaurants and businesses in the area are excited for what comes next in what has also become one of the biggest events on the East Coast.

“Very excited to have a year without COVID, ya know and not wearing masks and have all our crowds back at the weigh station,” said Crystal Hesmer, executive director of the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. “Welcoming people back to Morehead City … just very exciting to have a regular year again.”

The Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament is a Morehead City staple, bringing in thousands a day to watch for marlin to come up to the weigh station and compete in a week-long quest for a huge money prize.

The competition doesn’t just fill up the weigh station. It gives business to restaurants, hotels and local shops that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Plused up our staff, plused up our inventory, we’re looking forward to the crowd. We think it’s going to be great,” said John Foss, co-owner of Taps & Tackle.

Foss said they were already seeing a crowd of sorts Wednesday afternoon. The restaurant opened three weeks ago, but they are no stranger to what the restaurant business or what Big Rock will bring. He also said they’ve hired 6-9 more people in the front and back of the business to handle what is to come.

“Hours prepping, buying, you know, getting ready for it,” Foss said.

Right beside the weigh station is Red Fish Grill. It’s been open since 2011, and the owner, Kostas Manouslridis, is no stranger to prepping for Big Rock. He’s prepping his staff for what to expect, as well. He’s also changing his hours from a 4:30 open time to hours of noon-11 p.m.

“We are a year-round business, we are not seasonal, so on that aspect, we do have staff that can handle it,” he said. “They are going to be tired but they’ll be all right.”

The Big Rock Big Hero event is also back this weekend. The Big Hero Tournament works to provide service members an unforgettable fishing experience. Anglers host active-duty servicemen and women on their boats in hopes to win over $3.3 million purse.

There’s also the KWLA event that will be held June 11-12.