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Massena Chamber selling souvenirs at summer festival

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MASSENA — The Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce will be packing up some of its souvenir sale items and heading to Waddington this summer as part of the Bassmaster Elite Series St. Lawrence River Showdown, scheduled for August.

Chamber Executive Director Michael J. Gleason said they’ll be setting up at the “Tastes and Talents of the North Country” festival that will be held in conjunction with the tournament. They’ll have a vendor tent set up from 1 to 8 p.m. Aug. 9; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 10; and 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 11.

Among the items they’re currently planning to take to Whittaker Park are St. Lawrence Seaway sweatshirts and T-shirts and postcards, as well brochures, Massena maps and copies of the “Meet the Town” book detailing the Massena and Seaway Valley area.

As of last week, he said 26 vendors have signed up to be part of the festival.

The Chamber normally operates a gift shop during the summers at the Eisenhower Locks. But that shop will not be opening this year because of staffing cuts.

Mr. Gleason said this summer’s festival will give them an opportunity to sell their goods to a large number of people who are expected for the four-day tournament.

He said 102 anglers start the tournament on Thursday, and that number is knocked down to 50 anglers for Friday, 25 anglers for Saturday and 12 anglers for Sunday. They’re competing for a $600,000 prize.

“These are the pros,” he said.

Organizers expect the event to bring 100 of the world’s top bass anglers to St. Lawrence County, along with thousands of fishing fans and national media. A recent tournament in Texas drew 35,000 people for the four-day event.

The St. Lawrence River match-up is one of eight contests in this year’s Bassmaster Elite Series and the only one slated for the Northeastern United States.

Chamber President Susan E. Stiles said that, with such a large crowd and with the hours to plan to operate their vendor tent, volunteers will be key to making it successful for the chamber.

“We’re going to commit to having a vendor booth, and we need a commitment from volunteers,” she said. “We really need a commitment from everyone to help man the booth.”

The chamber also sells souvenir items on their website, www.massenachamber.com, which will be getting an update soon.

They have been looking into adding a new Content Management System, a computer program that allows publishing, editing and modifying content as well as maintenance from a central interface. That, Mr. Gleason said, will make it easier to maintain from their end.

They contract with Bryan Garrant for the website development, but the new CMS will allow the chamber to do more by themselves.

“We’ll have more control over the front pages,” Mr. Gleason said. “The content will be the same. It will just look different. It’ll be much easier for us to do things we want to do.”

The change will also allow the chamber to generate more revenue by selling more banner ads for their main page, he said.

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