Memories came rolling in when Beth Marler Fife remembered winning Miss Destin in 1979.
After winning Miss Congeniality, Beth was sure she wasn’t going to get the honor of hearing her name as the new Miss Destin 1979.
“And then I heard my name and I couldn’t believe it. Any of those girls could have won,” Beth said. “I didn’t even tell my boyfriend, Russ, who is my husband now, that I was competing because I didn’t want him to see me lose.”
Beth said the highlights of her year was participating in parades, like the Christmas parade, and meeting different people each day at the 31st annual Destin Fishing Rodeo. One special memory did stick out from the rest.
“(Early in the) Rodeo, the largest red snapper was caught on my dad’s head boat, Her Majesty II. On the very last day of the Fishing Rodeo, someone else caught the largest red snapper,” she said. “I really thought my dad’s boat was going to have the honor that year. It’s tough for a head boat to compete with charter boats.”
The largest red snapper caught that year was 40 pounds and 2 ounces caught by angler David Wesley of Mississippi. The snapper from her father's boat, which ended up as the runner up in the red snapper category, had come in at 37 pounds 14 ounces and had been caught by Ian Richards of Fort Walton Beach.
Beth said she was proud to represent the city of Destin, especially being the great-granddaughter of William T. Marler and granddaughter of Ben Marler Sr.
“My family has a lot of history here. My great-grandfather helped start this city and named it after his best friend Leonard Destin,” she said. “I wish my grandfather would have seen me as Miss Destin. He would have been so proud of me, but he passed away when I was 8.”
Beth posed every day during the month of October with anglers and their daily catches, but there was one secret she held back.
“I am actually allergic to fish,” Beth said. “I had to wash my hands constantly so I don’t make a mistake and touch my eyes”
Beth now runs Destin Air Conditioning & Refrigeration with her husband. They started the company in 1984.
“That was my 15 minutes of fame,” she said laughing.
Beth encourages that every Miss Destin to take advantage of the opportunities and blessings of representing the city.
“Enjoy the moment and don’t shy away from great opportunities that can better them in the future,” she said. "There’s only one every year. … Just see where it can take you.”
Destin Fishing Rodeo Executive Director Helen Donaldson said Destin is a fairly new city, but traditions like the Miss Destin pageant should continue on.
“We only have a few traditions that are positive and uplifting,” she said. “The community gets to meet incredible girls who do go one and become successful.”