Itâ€™s almost here! The 1996 Texas Black Bass Unlimited Fishfest and Gala will take place at Sam Houston Race Park on May 4. This date will coincide with the annual Derby Day at the racepark. It promises to be a great time and a benefit for a worthwhile cause in the interests of both anglers and water conservationists alike. Randy Nichols of Louis Delhomme Marine and Vicki Follmar of Boots Follmar Marine are serving as co-chairpersons for the event. Both Randy and Vicki have worked very hard to make this yearâ€™s Gala a success and they will be working even harder in the last month before the event takes place to insure a great night for all. Serving on the Advisory Board for this event are Clay Mills of Family Boating Center, Glenn Kirk of Captain Kirkâ€™s Marine, Keith Kocurek of Pier 45 Marine, Ed Parten and Leonard Ranne of TBBU, Don McPherson and Larry Bozka of Texas Fish and Game Magazine, John McCroskey of Louis DelHomme Marine, Pat McCarty of the Texas SportsGuide and Fred Lester of Redwing Boat Company. All of these people have gone through great lengths to provide a great evening of entertainment for the whole family. Some new names have been added to the guest list that should be mentioned: Forest Wood, a fishing Hall of Famer and the founder of Ranger Boats, will be an honored guest along with Andy Sansom, Executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife. John Hope will introduce his new ESPN outdoors program, â€œTracking Trophies.â€ Two more familiar faces on ESPN, Billy and Bobby Murray of â€œGuidesâ€, will be on hand at the event. Mike Dyes and Lonnie Stanley will also be attending the Gala. Mike and Lonnie host the popular â€œSportsmanâ€™s Challengeâ€. Another big name in the fishing industry, Keith Warren of â€œTexas Anglerâ€, will be hosting the event. Sports celebrities such as Elvin Bethea and Dan Pastorini, both former Houston Oilers, will be in attendance at the Gala. But none of these celebrities will be as heartily welcomed as fellow fisherman and country music recoding artist, Mark Chesnutt, who will perform at the event at 9:30 PM. Boat dealers from the Houston area will be presenting their new lines of Astro, Champion, Ranger, ProCraft, Skeeter, Stratos and Tracker boats. Silent and live auctions will be held at the Gala and dinner will be served. The Infield of the Sam Houston Race Park has been reserved for this event on May 4th. Steve Hofmann, Director of Retail Sales at the horse track, and Richard Linihan of Publicity and Marketing at the racetrack were kind enough to show me around the grounds of the massive Sam Houston Race Park. Steve told me he was â€œvery excited about having the fishing industry represented at the race park.â€ The Sam Houston Race Park is located on the south side of Beltway 8 in northwest Houston between Highway 249 and Highway 290. The park sits on 240 acres and has two horse tracks, a childrenâ€™s playground and a 20-acre lake. More than 1000 television cameras throughout the park keep viewers abreast of the action on the horse tracks. Texas Black Bass Unlimited hopes to raise funds through the â€˜96 Houston Fishfest and Gala to improve the aquatic habitats of Lake Conroe and Lake Livingston. These lakes have been victimized for years with heavy pollution levels and the subsequent loss of aquatic vegetation necessary to maintain healthy fisheries. Tickets for the event are $10.00 for general admission and concert, $50.00 for the dinner and photo session with the celebreties and may be purchased at the following locations: Boots Follmar Marine 713-649-2709 Captain Kirkâ€™s Marine 713-367-5630 Family Boating Center 713-441-4300 Louis DelHomme Marine 713-821-3300 Pier 45 Marine 713-999-5666 Red Wing Boat Company 713-921-0656 Texas Black Bass Unlimited 214-388-4724 Texas SportsGuide 409-856-8537 The Houston â€˜96 Fishfest and Gala, according to Randy Nichols, is â€œdesigned to maximize the collective force of freshwater anglers while simultaneously bringing more people into the sport.â€ TBBU is a non-profit conservation organization that exists for the future of Texas lakes. Come on out to the races and show your support. See yaâ€™ll at the races!