By Mark H. Stowers • Photography By Beverly Thompson
When the crappie are biting, Gary Worsham’s job gets easier. As the Executive Director Grenada Tourism for the past five years, he’s busy each day promoting the organization’s motto – Grenada is anything and everything outdoors.
“Our logo says, ‘go outdoors.’ I tell anyone and everyone if there’s anything you like to do outdoors, we have got it,”says Worsham. “Grenada Lake is the centerpiece of that and with it being the number one crappie fishing lake in America it is a huge draw for us. Then there’s camping with Hugh White State Park and the Dogwood’s Golf Course and bike trails, hiking trails, and downtown at the Lee Tartt Nature Preserve, there is kayaking and canoeing. They are continually making improvements to that with trails and opportunities to be outdoors in a unique setting.”
After spending forty-five years with Regions Bank, Worsham retired and then took on the challenge after being on the tourism board and even serving as chairman.
The Grenada native remembers being five years old and “my father taking me out to Grenada Lake and it still being in the construction phase. I’ve been living in Grenada since 1950.”
“I organized an effort to have a new sports complex built,” he says. “It’s under construction and will hopefully be finished in March of 2023. We’re very excited to have travel ball tournaments on six fields – baseball and softball with turf infield right by exit 208 (I-55).”
Worsham has helped put together more advertising to bring more crappie tournaments to town as well as diversify with the National Fox Hunters to have events in Grenada.
“We were able to acquire a half-marathon and our first triathlon last year at the lake,” he says. “I’m trying to expand the horizon of what we can do. The eight tournaments last year where our sponsorships totaled about $60,000, but the overall economic impact was more than $2.5 million dollars.”
He notes the crappie tournaments bring anglers and visitors to town for a week or so to pre-fish, stay in hotels and even buy fishing equipment and implements.
“We are setting records every month. A lot of that is coming out of COVID and people wanting to travel again, but the notoriety of Grenada Lake, it’s been pretty impressive.”
Worsham promotes fishing and helps his hometown take advantage of the world-renowned crappie lake actually doesn’t fish himself. But, he cherishes each and every visitor who comes to town, whether it is to fish or not.
“I don’t fish, but people call all the time and say, ‘can I bring my boat?’ I tell them if they have Livescope and know the lake they can do well, but if not, they should hire one of our crappie guides. They provide everything and you’ll definitely catch crappie. Our goal is to bring visitors to all of our local retailers. That helps increase sales tax and hopefully build more jobs and more retail establishments. Visitors are an important part of revenue in Grenada,” he says.
Worsham is constantly using his time to promote any and all events in the city and county of Grenada, but he does take some personal time as well.
“I like to walk at the lake with my wife, Sherry, and our two dogs and do a little bit of yard work. But, we spend a lot of time in Nashville with our son, county musician Charlie Worsham, and his wife and our grandson. Charlie just won an ACM award for Acoustic Guitar Player of the Year as a studio musician and we are very proud of his accomplishments,” says Worsham.