The 18th annual Lefty Kreh Tie Fest this weekend has a new venue and extended hours, a boon to anglers young and old. What will be missing, for the first time, is the event’s namesake, celebrated fisherman Lefty Kreh.
Kreh, who will be 93 on Monday, is in hospice care in his home in Timonium and unable to attend the Tie Fest on Saturday and Sunday at Loews Annapolis Hotel. It’s the first time the affair will be held on multiple days, and somewhere other than the Eastern Shore. Admission is $10 per day, or $15 for both.
Kreh’s absence led him initially to rethink the event, said Tony Friedrich, who has organized the Tie Fest from the start.
“When Lefty got ill, I called a bunch of his friends and asked, ‘Should I cancel the show?’ The response, overwhelmingly, was to go on,” Friedrich said. “They said, ‘This is how you carry on his legacy, to make it bigger and better.’
There are few anglers more revered than Frederick native Bernard "Lefty" Kreh. Kreh, who turned 90 last month, has fished for nearly 70 years with everyone from Ted Williams to Fidel Castro, and from President Jimmy Carter to Ernest Hemingway. Enshrined in numerous fishing Halls of Fame, he has been honored by the U.S. Postal Service, which issued a stamp commemorating a fly that Kreh made.
“It’s not so much about walking up to Lefty and getting him to autograph your hat, which is awesome in itself; it’s about the heart and soul of fly fishing. Years ago, I promised Lefty that we’d pass the torch to the next generation of fishermen — and this is us, keeping that promise.”
Featured are fly tying and casting demonstrations by noted anglers such as Bob Clouser, Blane Choklett, Bob Popovics and Steve Silverio; and seminars on everything from fishing for speckled trout in Tangier Sound (in the Chesapeake Bay) to fishing Alaska on a budget. Also, Jerry Kustich, a popular maker of bamboo fly rods, will hold a workshop.
Vendors of fishing supplies will be on hand for attendees, who are expected to top 1,000, Friedrich said.
Through social media, Kreh issued a statement to followers that reads, in part:
“I’m confined to my home, hooked to oxygen and have little stamina. My daughter and son are taking constant care of me and no father was more blessed. There is no guarantee on how long I’ll be here, but [I] am so humbled and grateful for all your wonderful messages. All The Best, Lefty."