Shirah, Destin, Melvin, Brunson — just a few of the names scrawled on nametags at the Founder’s Day celebration on Saturday at the Destin Community Center.

Ancestors of Destin’s 16 founding families milled about; visiting one another, making a plate at the buffet, and trying one of several homemade desserts prepared for the annual dessert contest.

“This is a chance to see relatives and friends outside of a funeral,” said Bill Shirah, who was talking with Matt Burns and his wife, former Destin Library Director, Jurate Burns.

Destin Middle School’s Interact Club helped serve meals from the buffet line full of delicious southern fare; the main dish was lightly fried fish from Dewey Destin’s.

The restaurant set up a tent behind the gym and fried fresh fish on the spot.

“I get to see people here that I haven’t seen in 30 or 40 years,” said restaurant owner Dewey Destin, the great-great-grandson of founding father Captain Leonard Destin. “It’s nice to be able to see everybody somewhere other than a funeral.”

Several Founder’s Day attendees said the only other time that the large group of ancestors gets together is for rather morose occasions like funerals, and Saturday was marked by more of a celebratory atmosphere.

“I take a lot of pride in my last name just because we’re one of the oldest families in Destin," said 18-year-old Aaron Destin. “I’m proud to carry on the name and I’m excited to come to all the Founder’s Days in the future.”

Miss Destin 2018 Ellen Brown helped the Interact Club members serve food and posed for pictures with the dessert competition winners.

Angela Cox Mueller won first place in the dessert competition with her grandmother’s “magic bars.”

The Destin History & Fishing Museum’s offered free admission for the day so that founding family ancestors could walk from the community center to the museum to see the temporary “Destin Military Members: Civil War to Vietnam" exhibit to learn more about their family and friends who served in the military.

“Founder’s Day is a time to reminisce about the founding families that started Destin. This gives us a time where we can all get back together and see one another,” said Rick  Moore. “It’s great to bring back the memories of times past.”