The Kayak Anglers Rendezvous has become a hotly anticipated annual gathering of the kayak fishing tribe in Hampton, VA. It's usually held pre-spring, as an excuse for all of us who have been cooped up to shake the shackles of winter and celebrate our community. This year it fell on Febuary 21st, and again we were blessed with great weather.
The 4th Annual Kayak Anglers Rendezvous and Chili Cook Off featured a gear swap sale and raffles for Heroes On The Water as well. The Chili Cook Off though, is the most serious business at hand. Take a look at our dedicated judges getting down to it.
After a hotly contested chili battle, our judges lined up to issue their verdicts on the trophy worthy pots of goodness.
Chili Cook Off Results:
3rd Place - Ben Kleeger.
Congrats to Ben who called ahead to say he was running late, but wanted in on the contest because he was pretty certain he had a good pot.
2nd Place - John Hipsher
Congrats to John who winged it, borrowing a crock pot and throwing down a tasty, spontaneous chili.
1st Place - Kris Lozier
And congrats to Kris who placed 1st at our inaugural Cook Off, took some years off to judge, and then roared back for another win!
This year we also had a very special presentation. Tom Vanderheiden, Chapter Coordinator for Heroes On The Water Tidewater, had messaged me a while back saying that his group, The Coffee Can Club, wanted to get a kayak for Â HOW volunteer and veteran, John Andrews. Through the work of the Coffee Can Club, some Appomattox River Company connections and great generosity from Old Town Canoe & Kayak ( Rep. Greg Franklin) we were able to present John Andrews with a brand new Old Town Predator MX.
Tom Vanderheiden stepped to the mic to honor and thank John Andrews. It was a special moment.
Heroes On The Water seeks to offer support to our veterans through kayak fishing, and studies have shown how therapeutic it can be. John, like many of the veteran volunteers, came to love the organization after having benefited from it's mission. Now, he seeks to spread that message and to help others. Thank you John.
I'd also like to give a special shout out to Tom Vanderheiden, who continues to do amazing work as the Chapter Coordinator for Heroes On The Water Tidewater. Â HOW is a volunteer organization and Tom dedicates a lot of time doing great work for our nation's veterans. I remember, years back when I told Tom I wanted to help with HOW, he cautioned, "It's important to stay focused on who we are serving. Sometimes people forget that. It is about the veterans first and foremost. We are here to thank them and give back to them."
That reminder stuck with me. I see it exemplified in Tom's focus. As I sat writing this a memory jumped into my head, from last year's TKAA Tournament. Tom was speaking about HOW, and as he often does, he asked a veteran volunteer, Kendall, to come up and share his story. It was a powerful moment. I can still hear Kendall saying, "Tom Vanderheiden is the best friend a veteran can have."
Well done Tom. Well done John. Well done Kendall. Thank you all for what you've done and what you continue to do.
The remainder of the event consisted of raffles for HOW and good old fashioned community camaraderie. The Kayak Anglers Rendezvous continues to be a great hang session for the tribe and a chance to welcome new anglers into the fold. We are very fortunate in this state to have such a close knit group that genuinely enjoys time together. We're already planning more fun for next year. Thank You to Everyone who came and hung out!
Thank You to all the Chili Cook Off judges; Ron Cagle, Jerry Long, Darren Powell, Tom Vanderheiden, Wayne Bradby, Andy McKnight.
Thank You to the TKAA family.
Thank You to the WKFA.
Thank You to the entire ARC-Hampton staff for all their hard work.
Thank you to Vic Sorenson for continuing to put together a fun event.
I'll post pictures up on our Facebook wall. Please share any you have as well.