In 1999 a few dozen karate enthusiast attended the first Somer Slam, but now the local karate event draws nearly 400 competitors from around the state and thousands of spectators each year.

As a matter of fact, the local Somer Slam event, which is held each year at the Center for Rural Development, is considered as one of the premier martial art events in the state.

Somer Slam director Jeff Turner has been overwhelmed with the event’s success over the past nine years.

“It is amazing how big this event has grown and it seems to be getting bigger and bigger each year,” Turner said. “The event has become a fun-filled day for both the martial artists and the spectators in attendance.”

“This event has become successful due to the tremendous community support and the help of the local businesses,” Turner added.

Somer Slam is a competition for martial artists of any age and any skill level. Competitors from three-year-old to adults compete in four different aspects of martial arts — forms, weapons, sparing and breaking.

The competitors are placed in different divisions based on age and skill level. And win or lose, everyone is awarded for their efforts.

“We spend over $10,000 in trophies and awards each year for Somer Slam,” Turner stated. “Every child that competes is recognized for their achievement with various awards.”

In this year’s Somer Slam event, over 2,00 spectators packed into the Center for another martial arts spectacle.

The event is truly impressive with over 10 different types of competitions going on across the Center’s largest convention hall. And all this takes place in front of a wall of 750 trophies that shine in the background.

But Somer Slam has become more that just a statewide Mecca for karate enthusiasts — the event has become a big tourist draw for the local area.

“I can’t tell you how many representatives from local businesses, restaurants and hotels have told me how the event has impacted their establishments on the week of Somer Slam,” Turner said. “It is gratifying to know that Somer Slam is giving kids an avenue to display their martial arts skills and, at the same time, impacting the local economy.”

Turner will be hosting the Hyastan Grappling Challenge at the Center in August.

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