This Lake Ontario hamlet is known as a fishing hot spot. Now local residents and officials are hoping to reel in support to help put Olcott on the national map by capturing the "Ultimate Fishing Town" contest, sponsored by cable television's World Fishing Network.
The public is invited to meet at 7 p.m. today in the Town of Newfane's Community Center, 2737 Main St., to offer suggestions on how to get folks to cast votes for Olcott.
The hamlet is in second place to win a $25,000 top prize and a 25-minute video highlighting the community and the surrounding area.
Voting began online May 1 and runs through May 31. The winner will be announced June 6. Anyone wishing to vote may do so at www.worldfishingnetwork.com/uft/town/olcottbeach-ny.
"We need the whole county to help us with this. We're too small to do it on our own," said Newfane Supervisor Timothy Horanburg. "But it would be a nice event for the whole county, if we win.
"That 25-minute video is an advertisement that alone is worth a million bucks," he added.
The $25,000 top prize must be "put toward an organization, foundation or cause benefiting local anglers," according to the contest rules.
While Horanburg said no specific plans are in place yet if Olcott wins, he said he would turn to Bill Hilts Jr. for advice. Hilts is the outdoor sports specialist for the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. and the one who nominated Olcott for the contest, at the behest of Niagara County Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane.
"This would give us something to hang our hat on and create an awareness of the excellent fishing resources we have here," Hilts said. "We already have a good reputation among anglers, but this would spread our message further, and all of Niagara County would benefit from this, because fish know no boundaries."
Hilts pointed to a recent Niagara University study listing the economic impact of fishing on the county as an average of $30 million annually.
Waddington, on the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands, is leading the contest with more than 8,000 votes. Olcott is in second place with more than 4,200, ahead of Cape Hatteras, N.C., with a little more than 4,000 votes.
"Waddington came in second last year in this contest, and they have a good lead right now, but it's not insurmountable," Hilts said. "We still have more time. I've been voting four times a day [the maximum allowed per individual]."