This year, the award posthumously recognizes the hard work and dedication of local fishing guide Capt. Kevin S. Davis. It was presented in his memory to his family with his wife Corey Davis accepting the plaque.
David Rath, chairman of the Tourism Advisory Council; David Turner, director of the Oswego County Community Development, Tourism and Planning Department; Kevin’s long-time fishing partner Captain Andy Bliss; and Fran Verdoliva, special assistant on the Salmon River for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and member of the Oswego County Tourism Advisory Council, were at hand for the presentation.
“Since 1995, this award has been given to individuals, businesses and organizations to recognize their extraordinary support and commitment of time and energy to the Oswego County tourism industry,” said Rath. “Capt. Davis was the owner and operator of ‘Catch the Drift’ guide service on the Oswego River where he could be found sharing the experience of fishing for salmon, trout, and steelhead in every kind of weather.
“His family and many friends and customers knew his passion and dedication to protecting, preserving, and promoting this world-class fishery. His passing on August 21 after a nearly five-year battle with cancer is a loss for our entire community.”
Turner agreed, “Kevin was a class act. He provided customers with an engaging fishing experience, sharing his valuable skills and knowledge to ensure that everyone enjoyed the trip. We had the opportunity to work with him on many occasions to host tourism marketing professionals and travel writers from across the region and around the world. He always stepped up to the plate, happy to help promote our area and its outstanding fishery.
“In the fall of 2017, I Love New York International Marketing Director Markly Wilson visited Oswego County along with travel writers from Germany. Kevin and Andy joined us in welcoming them and brought them out on the Oswego River for an unforgettable excursion. The writers, who travel all over the world exploring the best fishing areas, still refer to Oswego County and talk about their experience on ‘Catch the Drift’ with Kevin. The trip also gave Markly a chance to experience first-hand the superior fishing we have to offer the international tourism market. Kevin was key to ensuring the success of that trip, demonstrating the quality of our natural resources and raising awareness about Oswego County as a world-class fishing destination.”
Verdoliva offered the following remarks from his experiences with Davis, “I’m sure that if Kevin was with us today, he would be asking what all of the fuss is about and wondering why he is receiving this award. I am also sure that he would blush if he knew how many people considered him not only a valued friend, but one of the finest people they knew.”
He continued, “The definition of ambassador is a person who acts as a representative or ‘promotes’ a specific activity. A ‘messenger’ of that activity. The ‘public face’ of that activity. Capt. Kevin Davis, as a fishing guide on the Oswego River, the Oswego Harbor, or the Salmon River, was all of the above. He was a ‘promoter’ of the fabulous fishing to be had in our area. He was a ‘messenger’ for the fishery every day that he took a new client out on the river or lake, and he sure was the ‘public face’ of the fishery in the Oswego area.
“You cannot talk about the fishing here without Kevin’s name being associated with it. Catch the Drift. Locked. You see it on bumper stickers everywhere, you hear these phrases when people talk about fishing. But those phrases also took on a greater meaning than just fishing in Kevin’s life. Kevin was the ‘ambassador’ of how to live life every day with hope, strength, and dignity.
“Kevin’s infectious smile and laugh, his love of the resource that provided him a living and those who fished with him a living experience, the enjoyment he brought to those he guided, his respect for the resource and knowledge that if he didn’t personally protect it, he wouldn’t be able to do what he loved to do. Fish released to be caught again by others and inspiring his many grateful clients to respect the resource going forward.
“Kevin is no longer physically with us, but the memories that we all have of him out on the river and lake, rain or snow, hot or cold, but always smiling, laughing, and making others smile and laugh, will continue his ‘ambassadorship’ in all of us, in all of the lives that he touched.”
At hand to receive the award in Kevin’s memory were his wife Corey, daughters Paityn and Olivia, and parents Joan and Richard. Corey thanked the committee for the recognition, adding that the family is grateful for the recognition, respect and support they have received on behalf of Kevin. She also commented that her husband would have been humbled and honored to receive the award.
Kevin joins a prestigious list of nearly four dozen other individuals and organizations that have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to the growth of the Oswego County tourism industry since the award was first presented more than 20 years ago. Award winners are identified on plaques in the County’s Legislative Office Building at 46 E. Bridge Street, Oswego to ensure that they are remembered for their service to the community for many years to come.
Members of the Tourism Advisory Council are appointed by the Oswego County Legislature Chairman and represent businesses, recreational and historic sites and museums, events and attractions throughout Oswego County.