Gambling boats killed Las Vegas Nights in fundraising drives in Illinois.
They also spawned the Tinley Park Fishing Show.
That tidbit came last week while talking to Rich Komar, who has been a show manager at a Tinley Park High School gym since early 1992.
The benefits for the Tinley Park Athletic Booster Club extended to the halls, gyms, shops, the pool, and the cafeteria. In its 30th year, the show was supposed to take up the entire field house on the second weekend in February.
But on December 17th, the cancellation was announced due to COVID concerns.
This should be the last hurray for Komar, a retired meat wholesaler who hibernates in Arizona. The future of the show is unknown.
“My legacy will end with a COVID halt,” Komar said. âWe had a lot of great years. My big thing was the friendships that came with this show, so many people in the industry that you enjoy seeing and talking to over the weekend. “
Larry Conn was one.
“Rich and I became close friends in the 28 years I helped him and his crew on the show,” emailed Conn, Garmin’s regional marine sales director.
They grew close enough to be able to fish tournament fishes together. Conn served many roles: announcer of speakers, moderator for pikeperch topics and electronics, responsible for auctions in the boat sales area and muscle strength on the rare occasions where safety was required.
Komar, “the GM of the football program,” announced many sports in the high school.
“My passion was the soccer team,” said Komar. “I liked hanging out with them and doing the statistics for them.”
His two step-sons played there, then in college.
âThat’s what I’m most happy about, everything went straight back to the children,â said Komar.
The show funded things like trophy cases, grants, weight rooms, and uniforms.
“I love the passion of the show and what it did for the kids,” said Komar. “I liked that many children came back and helped.”
One is Steve Silic, a fisheries biologist for Cook County’s Forest Preserves.
“More personally, my story began with the show as a student at Tinley Park High School, where for me it was a fundraiser that I had to work on every year,” he wrote via email. âEven as a modest HS student, I was impressed and fascinated by the size of the show and always enjoyed working on it. It has been a real honor to be at the fair as a seller for the past 15 years. “
The Forest Preserves fisheries department, which had an annual booth, looked after the trout pond for many years and provided speakers.
âGetting to know and working with Rich Komar has shown how much good work a person can do, especially when they have a great team around,â Silic wrote via email. âThe pride and professionalism with which Rich and his team pull together for the common goal of offering a great show is reflected in the quality of the show and in the incredible success that it is not only for the general public Public, but also for the providers who participate. “
Bruce Caruso agreed, writing, âPerch America has always considered the Tinley Park Fishing Show to be one of the best shows. It was more of a personal show because we always saw and talked to fishermen fishing the southern basin of Lake Michigan and Wolfsee. “
To Conn he said, “I think that of all the shows, this show marked the beginning of the fishing season for me and that open water wasn’t far.”