Are There Sharks in Destin, Fort Walton Beach & Okaloosa Island?

Posted by Emerald Coast CVB  on 

Swimming in the emerald waters of Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island is without a doubt one of the top things to do on the Emerald Coast when on vacation. But, you may also have some concerns about interacting with our marine life, namely sharks.

Scrolling through your newsfeed on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen videos of sharks swimming along the edge of the beach. And, they do. They are a natural occurrence in our waters and this is their home. But, contrary to what the internet would have you believe, their interactions with humans are very rare.

When we say rare, we mean it. There have only ever been three shark attacks in Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island since 1882, according to the University of Florida. And, there has never been a fatally resulting from a shark attack in the heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast.

So, will you see a shark? Maybe. But, there is no reason to panic. In fact, remaining calm and exiting the water without a lot of splashing will make you less likely to attract the shark’s attention. Simply leave the water as quickly as you can and never attempt to touch a shark. Want to capture the encounter on video to tweet to us later? Great! Keep your distance and let your camera’s zoom do all the work.

While it is unlikely you will encounter a shark on your vacation in Destin, Fort Walton Beach or Okaloosa Island, that doesn’t mean you won’t see some fantastic sea life during your stay. Be on the lookout for playful dolphins, hermit crabs, protected sea turtles and numerous fish.

Pack plenty of sunscreen and don’t forget the sand toys, but leave your concerns at home. Sharks might add an element of excitement to your vacation, but with vigilance and our safety tips, a scary encounter won’t be anything you need to worry about here on the Emerald Coast!

July 4th Fireworks on the Emerald Coast

Destin

Smoke on the Coast – July 3, 2017 – 9:00 pm – Start your Independence Day early at Destin Commons with great BBQ, live music, street performers, and kids activities. This 6th annual event benefits local charities. There will be 16 area restaurants and BBQ teams competing in the BBQ competition fighting for the People’s choice award of best BBQ on the Emerald Coast. BBQ tastings and live music starts at 5:00 pm and samples are $1 each. Fireworks are at 9:00 pm.

Red, White, and Baytowne – July 4, 2017 – 9:15 pm – The fireworks show at Baytowne Wharf starts at 9:15 pm, but the fun and celebration begins at 6:00 pm with kids activities, live music, and more!

4th of July Fireworks over the Harbor – July 4, 2017 – 9:00 PM – Enjoy a patriotic fireworks display at HarborWalk Village on Independence Day. Enjoy live music starting at 7PM.

Fort Walton Beach

4th of July at the Fort Walton Beach Landing – July 4, 2017 – 8:45 – Beginning at 4pm, there will be live music, entertainment, food, merchandise vendors, kids activities, and more. Fireworks launch at 8:15PM, followed by live music by Continuum!

Navarre Beach

4th of July Fireworks on Navarre Beach – July 4, 2017 – 9:00 PM (or dark) – Fireworks will launch from Navarre Beach Marine Park and will be visible from both the beach and the sound side east and west of the Navarre Beach Causeway bridge.

Niceville – Valparaiso

Twin Cities Fireworks Show over Boggy Bayou – July 4, 2017 – DUSK – The fireworks will be launched over Boggy Bayou at Dusk. There will be plenty of kids activities such a train ride, bounce house, and a water slide. Bring the whole family and spend the day celebrating Independence Day! The most popular places for public viewing of the annual fireworks show are Lincoln Park, Lions Park, and the Turkey Creek area in Niceville. Parking is limited.

Rosemary Beach

Fourth of July Celebration – Start bright and early with our Bike Decorating Contest & Breakfast. (7:30 AM) followed by the Bike Parade throughout the Town Center (8:30 AM). Enjoy an old-fashioned family field day on Western Green with sack races, water balloon toss, games prizes and more (9:00 AM). Rock to the sounds of the different decades with our band the “Like Totally” Hep Cats on Western Green (6:00 PM). Enjoy a star spangled fireworks display from the beach courtesy of the Rosemary Beach Property Owners Association (8:45 PM). Blankets and Lawn Chairs are welcome.

Seaside

Seaside 4th of July Celebration – July 4, 2017 – 8:30 PM – The annual Seaside Independence Day parade starts at 8:00 AM and goes from Seagrove to the Seaside Amphitheater. Kick back and enjoy live music by the Victory Belles at 7PM, followed by the fireworks show at 8:30 PM.

Alys Beach

4th of July Concert & Fireworks – July 4, 2017 – 9:00 PM – Starting at 6:00 PM, there will be live music by The Bucktown All-Stars with the fireworks show around 9PM. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Can’t Make July 4th Fireworks?

July 5 – Fireworks From Okaloosa Fishing Pier – Fort Walton Beach, FL
July 6 – Red, White, and Baytowne – Baytowne Wharf

Memorial Day is your chance to honor people who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Don’t do alone. Join the community as it honors those who died and celebrate the safety and freedoms for which they fought.

Kick off the unofficial first day of summer with these events:

Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village

What: Memorial Day Concert Celebration

When: 7-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: 10 Harbor Boulevard, Destin

Cost: Free admission

Info: emeraldgrande.com/events

Celebrate Memorial Day with live music and fireworks on the Destin Harbor. The Good Lookings will perform 7-9 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, Flash Flood will perform 4:30-6:30 p.m., Departure: The Journey Tribute Band will perform 7-9 p.m. and Just Add Fire, a fire-spinning group, will perform at 9 p.m.

Gulf Cemetery

What: Memorial Day ceremony

When: 10 a.m. Monday

Where: 1466 S. County Highway 393, Santa Rosa Beach

Info: gulfcemetery.org

Gulf Cemetery will host its annual Memorial Day ceremony, in which it will honor the 125 veterans interred in the cemetery with a service that will include a keynote speech by Major Scott C. Willis, a Special Operations officer on active duty with the United States Air Force. The Girl Scouts of South Walton will post the colors for the event. Cloud 9 Orchestra, a local big band, will play music during the ceremony. The Destin Warbirds will perform a “missing man” flyover formation with a World War II aircraft. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the children present will be provided American flags to place on each of the veterans’ grave sites.

Hunter Amphitheater Pensacola

What: Memorial Day Concert

When: 5-7:30 p.m. Monday

Where: S. Devilliers St., Pensacola

Cost: Free admission

Info: pensacolacivicband.org

The 2nd annual Pensacola Memorial Day Concert features uplifting musical performances from the Pensacola Civic Band, guest appearances and dramatic readings that honor the military service of all men and women in uniform, their families at home and especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Several Pearl Harbor survivors will join in this event. In addition, MANNA will be on-site to collect any canned food donations. These donations go to help support the mission of MANNA. To learn more, visit mannahelps.org.

Mattie Kelly Arts Center

What: Concert Under the Stars

When: 6 p.m. gates open, 7 p.m starts Saturday

Where: Northwest Florida State College amphitheater, 100 College Boulevard, Niceville

Cost: $15 tickets

Info: mattiekellyartscenter.org

The Cornell Gunter Coasters will bring its mix of comedy, Doo Wop and blues to the Mattie Kelly Arts Center outdoor amphitheater for a concert under the stars. Food and beverage vendors will be on-site. Seating is available in fixed seats at the amphitheater or guests can bring lawn chairs or blankets to set up on the lawn. Coolers are permitted. Free parking is available in the Mattie Kelly Arts Center main parking lot.

The Village of Baytowne Wharf

What: Memorial Day Celebration

When: Saturday-Monday

Where: 9100 Baytowne Boulevard, Miramar Beach

Cost: Free admission

Info: baytownewharf.com

Start your summer with a Memorial Day weekend celebration at the Village of Baytowne Wharf. It features live music from 3HG from 7-9 p.m. Saturday. Sunday will featuring a variety of events such as face-painting, balloon animals, a stilt walker and lawn games 6-9 p.m.; live music 7-9 p.m.; and a patriotic fireworks show at 9:15 p.m. At 7 p.m. Monday, Sandestin veterans will present a Memorial Day program in honor of the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

The Henderson

What: Memorial Day Seafood Boil, Poolside BBQ

When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday Seafood Boil, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sunday Poolside BBQ.

Where: 200 Henderson Resort Way, Destin

Cost: $35 adults, $15 children

Info: hendersonbeachresort.com

Bring your family for a poolside seafood boil with sides on Saturday and a traditional poolside barbecue Sunday.

Unity Park, Eglin Air Force Base

What: Gate to Gate Memorial Run

When: 6:30 a.m. in place, 7 a.m. race starts Saturday

Where: Unity Park, 188-312 Chinquapin Drive, Eglin Air Force Base

Cost: $40

Info: runsignup.com

Run or walk in the 32nd annual Gate to Gate Run, a 4.4-mile race at Eglin Air Force Base. The event is open to the public. It includes a free children’s run at 9 a.m., free food, free massages, live music and an awards presentation.

Spring Festivals in Northwest Florida

Here are some of the can’t-miss events, festivals and activities taking place along the Emerald Coast in North Florida this spring.

If you’re thinking about hitting the beach for spring break, you might just have the chance to make it a seasonal fete. As you plan which attractions and restaurants to check out during your next stay along Northwest Florida, take a look at some of the best spring festivals and events in Northwest Florida Beaches:

Emerald Coast Cruizin Festival

Thousands of classic cars, hot rods, custom cars and trucks make way to Panama City Beach for this week-long festival from March 8-11, 2017.

Florida Festivals

Pensacola Blue Wahoos

The Blue Wahoos, a Minor League baseball team in Pensacola, have its season opener on April 6, 2017.

World War II 75th Anniversary Remembrance Banquet

This military appreciation banquet to observe the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II takes place on April 7, 2017 at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.

34th Annual Helen Drake Invitational

Recognized as one of the largest United States Tennis Association (USTA) adult tennis events across the country, this tournament returns to TOPS’L Beach & Racquet Resort in Miramar Beach from April 12-16, 2017.

Florida Events

Seabreeze Jazz Festival

A week of smooth jazz on the Emerald Coast takes place April 19-23, 2017, next to Pier Park in Panama City Beach.

Billy Bowlegs Charity Golf Tournament

Kicking off “Pirate Season” on the Emerald Coast with activities such as golfing and boating, one of the best pirate festivals in the area takes place April 20-22, 2017.

North Florida Festivals

Emerald Coast Volleyball Week

Volleyball teams throughout the country compete in this tournament taking place at The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach from April 26-30, 2017.

South Walton Wine Festival

Dozens of celebrity winemakers, distillers, chefs, brew masters and entertainers come together to wine, dine, educate and entertain guests at Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach from April 27-30, 2017.

Emerald Coast Bike Fest

A motorcycle rally featuring free concerts, charity poker runs and bike shows takes place at Emerald Coast Harley Davidson in Fort Walton Beach from May 4-7, 2017.

Florida Activities

Jeep Beach Jam

Thousands of Jeep owners, enthusiasts and club members will gather in Panama City Beach from May 17 – 21, 2017 for the second annual Jeep Beach Jam.

Interested in one of these festivals? Find a rental home nearby.

Fort Walton Beach On List of Most Affordable Beach Towns

“The beaches here and on nearby Okaloosa Island are every bit as breathtaking as the ones in Destin and Panama City, with a fraction of the people,” the Thrillist article said.

FORT WALTON BEACH — Living in paradise isn’t just for the rich and famous.

According to a recent article on Thrillist, there are 13 beach towns that are not only beautiful, but relatively cheap to live in. With a median house price at $159,600, Fort Walton Beach ranked No. 7 on the most affordable beach towns in the U.S.

“The beaches here and on nearby Okaloosa Island are every bit as breathtaking as the ones in Destin and Panama City, with a fraction of the people,” the article reads.

Other nearby beach towns named in the article were Pensacola at No. 2 and Gulf Shores, Alabama, at No. 13.

Realtor Dawn David of Team Dawn David with Coldwell Banker has been selling properties in the Fort Walton Beach area for about 20 years. Working primarily with investment properties, David said the lower price points for homes are attractive to potential buyers.

“The views sure don’t hurt either,” she said. “We see numerous articles ranking Fort Walton Beach in the top among the most beautiful beaches.”

David said the area is also not crowded compared to beach towns in South Florida, which the Thrillest article also points out.

“It makes for a more laid-back vacation experience,” she said. “Not to mention the golf courses, shopping, restaurants — it’s the whole package.”

Ted Corcoran, president of the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, said he’s never surprised to see the city receive accolades.

“Others are beginning to evaluate the Happiest City in Florida,” he said referring to a different list that the city ranked in. “This is the beginning of the spring break season when people spend a year’s worth of savings to vacation for one week. How lucky we are to live here. It’s like we’re on vacation everyday.”

To see the complete story and list by thrillist.com, click HERE.

Top 5 places to people watch on the Emerald Coast

By

The next time you are relaxing on the beach and surrounding towns of the Emerald Coast, have a seat, grab a beverage and give a nod to your fellow neighbor as they pass.

People watching is nothing new, but if you find yourself in this paradise, glued to your smart phone, it might never have occurred to you to look up and observe your surroundings.

Wikihow.com lists some of the benefits to people watching

  • It’s relaxing and enjoyable – Seeing other people have fun, dressed up, going about daily activities is enjoyable and even soothing as you sit somewhere comfortable in a cafe or park bench under the sun. People are fascinating, so this reason really needs no more explanation!
  • It passes time while you’re waiting for someone or while you’re sitting with people who don’t interest you much but you’re obliged to stay with them.
  • It restores a sense of wonder. Children are renowned for people watching and just by trying it again, you can regain this sense of wonder for a brief moment of time.
  • It’s informative. If you’re writing a book or developing characters for a play, observing people can be an excellent way to find traits and styles for your characters.
  • It’s inspiring. Watching people can lead to writing a symphony, movie script, or a blog post.
  • It’s a healthy and much more interesting alternative to Facebook or Instagram stalking.

We have gathered a list of some of the popular spots to people watch in Destin and the rest of Emerald Coast.

  1. The Whale’s Tail Beach Bar & Grill – Here is an obvious choice for people watching. This beachside bar is literally a step away from the beach and is a nice people watching spot due to the constant flow of passers-by walking along the shore or coming in for an adult beverage at the bar.
A group of people talk while hanging out at the Whale's Tail Beachside Bar & Grill in South Walton County. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS
A group of people talk while hanging out at the Whale’s Tail Beachside Bar & Grill in South Walton County. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS

2. Crab Island – This oasis in the middle of the Choctawhatchee Bay has an abundance of people watching opportunities. From the party goer to the family of four, you can observe how different people enjoy their time there.  See boaters float their dogs on paddle boards or watch a group of people cheer over a game of beer pong while submerged in three feet of water. Watching how people get to Crab Island is also an interesting observational moment.

Crab Island has grown in popularity for locals and people on vacation. This is a prime spot to relax on a boat and people watch. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS
Crab Island has grown in popularity for locals and people on vacation. This is a prime spot to relax on a boat and people watch. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS

 

3. Seaside – The town of Seaside is located on the ever-popular stretch of road call Scenic Highway 30A. The best spot to observe people is in front of the shiny metal food trucks that are centrally located in the town where you can watch pedestrians, bicyclists and cars, bustle to their intended relaxation points.

Outdoor seating in front of the food trucks in Seaside is a perfect place to relax and watch the bustle of vacationers and locals along Scenic Highway 30A. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS
Outdoor seating in front of the food trucks in Seaside is a perfect place to relax and watch the bustle of vacationers and locals along Scenic Highway 30A. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS

4. HarborWalk Village – We suggest an actual walk to do your people watching here. The HaborWalk is an excellent stretch of pathway with a combination of people, fishing boats, harbor traffic and restaurants that you can only appreciate from a healthy walk.

The HaborWalk strteches over a quarter-mile along the Destin Harbor, home to the largest fishing fleet Florida. Restaurants, fish, shops and people will satisfy any of your desires to people watch. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS
The HaborWalk stretches over a quarter-mile along the Destin Harbor, home to the largest fishing fleet Florida. Restaurants, fish, shops and people will satisfy any of your desires to people watch. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS

5. The fishing piers – The Okaloosa Island and Navarre fishing piers are primed for a much saltier experience for people watching. Walk to the end of the pier and you will find a great view of the Gulf of Mexico as well as a view of avid anglers that frequent the pier in the hopes of landing the ‘big one.’

Bill Arnold of Pensacola, carries his king mackerel in front of a crowd the Navarre Fishing Pier. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS
Bill Arnold of Pensacola, carries his king mackerel in front of a crowd at the Navarre Fishing Pier. NICK TOMECEK/DAILY NEWS

Free for all … in December

Nothing in life is free … except for these events, food and more!

Each month, we gather and list some of the free events, food dishes and outdoor activities available on the Emerald Coast.

Here are some free things available in December:

FREE EVENTS

Movie afternoon: The Friends Guild of the Destin Library Inc. will sponsor a free monthly movie afternoon featuring independent films and documentaries. The library will show “Shine” at 3 p.m. today at the Destin Library, 150 Sibert Ave., Destin. Films are unrated and directed toward mature audiences. “Shine” is based on the true story of Australian pianist David Helfgott.

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Christmas Miracle Children’s Fiesta: United for a Good Cause Inc. will host the 12th annual Emerald Coast Christmas Miracle Children’s Fiesta from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Emerald Coast Convention Center, 1250 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach. The Latin-flavored party is open to all needy children and families. The event will feature free toys, food, games, music and activities. From 1 to 2 p.m. only families with special needs children will be allowed in. The general public may enter starting at 2 p.m.

“Animation in Motion”: The Christmas Lady’s annual show is open in the old K-Mart building, 1140 E John Sims Pkwy, Niceville, (next to Ollie’s). The show is open 6-9 every night until Dec. 27. The 30,000 square-foot display features some new theater sets and backdrops, live performances by local talent, Christmas karaoke, character actors, storytellers and Santa. The collections of animated figures and the miniature Christmas Village all have new additions. And don’t forget the model trains. Admission is free. Catch updates on the Facebook page: TheNicevilleChristmasLady.

OUTDOOR FUN

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Bethlehem Christmas Village: Capt. Anderson’s Marina in Panama City Beach will host a Bethlehem Christmas Village from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The free event will feature live music, live nativity, a toy and food drive, food and gift merchants and a stable with petting animals. For more information, visit CaptAndersonsMarina.com/events.

A Lionel Christmas: The West Florida Railroad Museum will present “A Lionel Christmas” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 16, 23 and 30 and Dec. 17, 24 and 31 at the 109-year-old Milton Railroad Depot, 5003 Henry St., Milton. In addition to normal historic displays, the depot will feature multiple model railroads running indoors and out, train rides for children, holiday lights and hot chocolate. Admission and parking are free. Donations are accepted. Email conductor@wfrm.org or visit the website at www.wfrm.org.

FREE FOOD

2FFA-December

Free refreshments: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Emerald Coast will host a Toy Drive for Toys for Tots noon-2 p.m. Wednesday at the 4636 Gulfstarr Drive, Destin. Drop off “unwrapped” toys and enjoy free food and drinks.

Free for all … in November

FreeNovember

Nothing in life is free … except for these events, meals and more!

Each month, we gather and list some of the free events, food dishes and outdoor activities available on the Emerald Coast.

Here are some free things available in November:

FREE EVENTS

Camellia show: The Greater Fort Walton Beach Camellia Society will present the 52nd Annual Camellia Show and Plant Sale from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday in the atrium of the Meridian (formerly Westwood) Retirement Resort, 1001 Mar Walt Dr., Fort Walton Beach. The show is open and free to the public. A variety of camellia plants will be available for purchase. Awards will be given in several divisions and categories.

Author discussion: The Friends of the Niceville Public Library will host local author Mary C. Brown as she discusses her new book, “Waiting for the Daffodils,” a memoir detailing a tragic loss. This free program will be held at the Niceville Public Library at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 15. Call 279-4863, ext. 1504 or email lglass@okaloosa.lib.fl.us to reserve a seat.

Free student recitals: The Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts Division at Northwest Florida State College offers a series of free afternoon Student Recitals twice a month on Fridays at 3 p.m. in the college’s Tyler Recital Hall at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center on the Niceville campus, 100 College Boulevard. Fall recitals are scheduled Nov. 18 with an Honors Recital on Dec. 2. Seating is open on a first-come basis.

OUTDOOR FUN

Blue Angels: It’s homecoming for the Blue Angels. The Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron will close the 2016 season at its annual Homecoming Air Show aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola on Saturday and Sunday. Gates open both days at 8 a.m., and admission and parking for all shows are free. The Blues’ C-130 Hercules transport known as “Fat Albert” will thrill the crowd with its short field take-off and low-level passes. There will also be other aerial performers. Dozens of military and civilian aircraft will be on display. There will be a special night show 4:30-7 p.m. Saturday only that will end with one of the largest fireworks shows in the Pensacola area. Pets and coolers are not permitted. For more information, visit naspensacolaairshow.com.

Pioneer Day: Embrace the outdoors with no park admission fees. The Friends of Emerald Coast State Parks will host Pioneer Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Fred Gannon Rocky Bayou State Park, 4821 S. Highway 20, Niceville. It’s a free event for families with activities to learn pioneer survival skills, demonstrations and live flute music and storytelling. Call the park at 833-9144 for more information or in case of weather concerns.

FREE FOOD

Free coffee for veterans and active military: Starbucks will offer a free tall coffee to veterans, active military and their spouses Friday for Veterans Day.

Free entrée for active-duty military and military veterans: Olive Garden will celebrate Veterans Day on Friday, offering a free entrée from a special menu to active-duty military and military veterans. The special menu features some of the restaurant’s most popular items. Unlimited soup or house salad and garlic breadsticks come with the meals.

Free appetizer or dessert for military: LongHorn Steakhouse will honor Veterans Day with a free appetizer or dessert Friday for those who have proof of military service. The restaurant will also offer a 10 percent discount to guests who dine with veterans on Friday.

Free meal for veterans and active military members: Veterans and active military members can visit Tijuana Flats for a free meal on Friday.

What to Do in Fort Walton Beach

Sure we’ve got AMAZING beaches – but we have SO MUCH MORE!

If you’re wondering what else Fort Walton Beach has to offer, here are just a few suggestions:

Fish on! Destin Fishing Rodeo gearing up for 68th year

Destin Rodeo Logo
loresdestinr27_011 During last year’s rodeo, anglers from 38 different states came to Destin for the storied month-long fishing tournament, and spent approximately $1.4 million on hotels, food and recreation while they were here. Rodeo Executive Director Helen Donaldson expects this year to be no different.

 

 

The 68th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo is gearing up for another exciting year.

Helen Donaldson, executive director of the rodeo, said the board has been working tirelessly for the past 11 months to prepare for this year’s tournament.

“We work year long to get this going,” she said. “We form committees, determine the awards, decide what fish we can catch, go over any rules changes.”

During last year’s rodeo, anglers from 38 different states came to Destin for the storied month-long fishing tournament, and spent approximately $1.4 million on hotels, food and recreation while they were here. Donaldson expects this year to be no different.

“Charter boat registration is actually up compared to this time last year,” she said.

Trey Winds, captain of the charter boat Outta Line and chairman of this year’s fishing rodeo, agreed that this year is shaping up to be one of the best yet.

“Personally, my charter boat is booked up for October and I’m sure a lot of the other ones are too,” he said. “It’ll be a good year for the rodeo. And the fishing is good too, so as long as the weather holds out it will be awesome.”

fishing-rodeo-3

The rodeo has 19 different divisions, including party boat, ladies and juniors. Over 200 awards are being offered for various fish and categories, all of them sponsored by area businesses.

Donaldson said she expects around 5,000 fish to be caught this year, and around 1,000 to be weighed.

“There’s anywhere from 300 to 1000 people down on the docks on any given day (during the tournament) to watch the weigh-ins,” she said.

She added that the weigh-ins will be displayed on the Jumbo Tron at AJs so more people can view the excitement.

There are several new T-shirt designs this year, in addition to the classic design that includes each fish that will be caught during the tournament. There are five different designs and about a dozen different color options to choose from.

“Everybody loves rodeo T-shirts,” Donaldson said.

The rodeo was originally held in 1947 during the month of June to encourage fishermen to come to Destin, and was eventually moved to the month of October so as to help the fishermen who were already here extend their season. Today, the tournament draws thousands of people from all over the country who both participate in the fishing and just watch from the docks.

“We call it a spectator sport,” Donaldson said. “People come for the rodeo but they don’t even fish. There’s always something happening down on the docks.”