Sunday, March 1, 2009

"Picture City" and Sailfish Lead to Tourism

On February 27, Talkin' Tourism welcomed Gary Scott and Ed Killer to the show.

Gary Scott is the head of production at New Vision Productions, Inc., which is based in Stuart. He talked about film and television production and the enormous potential that exists for the industry here on the Treasure Coast. Gary's first introduction to the area came through work on an Outboard Marine Corporation commercial. Gary shared that productions brings dollars. A wide array of services are needed, including accommodations, catering, talent, support staff, and more. In addition, the industry can help showcase an area.

Listeners learned film and television production is not new to the area. In 1913, the original Robinson Crusoe was filmed along the banks of the St. Lucie River. Other productions filmed in the area include Gentle Giant, filmed in the 1960's mostly in Port Salerno starring Vera Miles and Dennis Weaver; MoonRaker; BL Stryker, a television series starring Burt Reynolds; Empire of the Ants, released in 1977, filmed largely on Hutchinson Island and in the Everglades and starring Joan Collins, Robert Lansing, John David Carson, and Pamela Shoop.

Show co-host Robin Hicks-Connors also provided some history about a proposed 1900's development planed for the Hobe Sound area called 'Picture City.' The intent was to have a city built for the production of film, movies and the like. Unfortunately the Florida Land Boom turned into the Florida Land Bust and the project never really got off the ground. The gas street lamps on Dixie Highway in the Hobe Sound area are testament to that early effort.

Ed Killer, outdoors writer for Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, reflected on the history of the Stuart Sailfish Club, and more specifically the history of sportfishing as a tourism generator on the Treasure Coast. In the early days, local folks realized the opportunity to take visitors out for a day of fishing. The fish sought were primarily meat fish—cobia, kingfish, grouper, and more. Toly Englebretsen was recognized as one of the earliest charter boat captains, taking guest out for $15 per day.

Sailfish became a sought after species in the winter months and the billfish were caught in large numbers with very unsophisticated tackle. Ernie Lyons, working for the then Stuart Messenger, would send telegrams to sports and outdoors writer across the nation when the “bite was on” and would invite them (early FAM trip) to come fishing with captains like Curt Whitaker, who at 98 is now writing his memoirs. Of course the journalist from New York, Chicago, St. Louis and other major cities would later write about it and 'tourists' would flock to the area to fish.

The Stuart Sailfish Club was formed in 1935 and incorporated in 1941. The club initiated the conservation effort of catch and release to “protect” the species. In 1938, a reporter from the Miami Herald told Ernie Lyons the area should be named the Sailfish Capital of the World. The rest is history!

Ed also reflected on the importance of all of the fishing tournaments that occur in the area, which bring anglers to the area from all over the country, who spend money on hotels, marinas, food, bait tackle and much more.

Learn more by listening to the show. Download it HERE.
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