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‘Ding’ Darling tarpon tournament still collecting auction items

By Staff | Apr 26, 2018

The seventh annual “Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament is set for May 11.

According to the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, event organizers are still accepting donations of items for the auction. Proceeds raised will go toward conservation efforts at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Over the past six years, about $330,000 was raised.

“Last year, we raised $80,000 for the refuge as a result of sponsorships, donations and auction proceeds,” DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller said in a previous prepared statement.

The tourney raises money strictly through its raffle, silent auction and sponsors.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille is once again the title sponsor this year.

“Doc Ford’s has been a faithful supporter of our efforts at ‘Ding’ Darling, helping greatly to bolster refuge programs and research to balance federal budget shortfalls,” she said. “We’re so grateful to Doc Ford’s for this huge effort in our behalf.”

Already booked full, the competition features 55 spots. The tournament pays out 100 percent of the entry fees, which could amount to $25,000 or more, as the tourney awards to the top five teams.

Last year, Marty Harrity, co-owner of Doc Ford’s, added a new incentive for taking first place in the tournament. He introduced the exclusive “tarpon jacket” – a pink sports jacket swimming with tarpon. Mike Billheimer, one of the tournament’s anglers and fellow island restaurateur, had found it for him.

“It’s kind of like the green Masters tournament jacket in golf,” Harrity said in a previous prepared statement. “The winning captain gets the honor of wearing the pink ‘tarpon jacket.'”

To donate auction items, contact 239-472-1100, Ext. 4.

For more about the tourney, visit www.dingdarlingtarpontourney.org.