Gus Macker kicks off with BWW event

Published 9:51 am Friday, May 3, 2013

With just a few weeks before the Gus Macker 3-on-3 basketball tournament converges on downtown Ironton, organizers thanked this year’s sponsors at a special event Thursday evening.

Buffalo Wild Wings was host to the annual Macker Mania kick-off party, with the Macker Man in attendance shooting some free throws with children.

A few of those children, like James Carter, 13, and Brady Pemberton, 14, played a friendly game of one-on-one.

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The boys are signed up to play in the tournament, which is May 18-19 and organized by civic group the Friends of Ironton, with teammate Payton Adkins. The two said they are excited to play, but not nervous.

“I’m used to it,” Carter said of the game-day pressure.

Jason Griffith, Carter’s coach and stepdad, said the Macker tournament was a good way for the community to come together.

“I think it shows good sportsmanship,” Griffith said. “… That’s definitely what any sporting event is really about.”

Dean Nance, Ironton schools superintendent and Friends of Ironton board member, said the Macker Man already made visits to the elementary and middle schools.

“(The event) has been around long enough that the kids look forward to it every year,” Nance said. “You don’t have to explain who Gus Macker is.”

Nance also said good sportsmanship is a big part of the tournament and it showcases the city.

“I’ve been involved since the very first Macker,” Nance said. “I think it’s great for the kids and gives us the opportunity to showcase our city. We welcome visitors to our town. We’re proud of it.”

Beth Campbell, one of the Macker organizers, said about 213 teams have signed up to play this year, and the registration deadline has been extended due a last-minute influx of registrants.

“They saw a great result toward the end of registration,” Campbell said. “There seems to be more of a want to play this year.”

The registration deadline has been extended to midnight on May 5. Registration forms can be found at The event is open to anyone ages 7 and up.

There is also still time to register for the “Hoops of Vendors” craft show in the Ro-Na Theater.

This will be the first year for the FOI to host a craft show in conjunction with the Macker.

Valerie Freeman, organizer of the show, said about 20 vendors have signed on, but there is room for plenty more.

“The Gus Macker itself is such a family-oriented event, this is just another plus,” Freeman said.

Freeman is a veteran crafter of about 18 years and owns her own home-based business, Treasures from the Valley. Freeman said FOI president Rick Jansen asked her to help organize this year’s craft show.

Freeman said the Ro-Na has room for about 100 crafters and vendors and gives Macker spectators a way to get out of the sun for a bit and see the progress of the theater’s renovations.

There is no entrance fee for the public, but people wanting to register to have a 10 by 10 table at the show can call Freeman at (740) 533-7462 by May 16 for more information.

“We really want to see it continue to grow each year. They are only going to benefit each other,” Freeman said. “We encourage as many people to come out as possible. Even if you’re not a crafter, just see what people bring to the community.”