In a little over a week, the 70th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo will begin.

To help kick things off, the Rodeo held a Meet Miss Destin event at the Henderson Resort on Thursday evening.

“Rodeo season has officially begun!” said Helen Donaldson, the executive director of the Rodeo.

Miss Destin 2018 Ellen Brown was all smiles as she greeted and posed for pictures with guests.

“It’s honestly one of the best opportunities and privileges I’ve ever gotten in this entire world I feel like,” the high-school senior said about being Miss Destin. “I’ve met so many people and I love doing it.”

Although she was crowned earlier this spring, Brown’s reign is just starting.

“You basically become an ambassador for the community and get the opportunity to really change the community by meeting different people and asking what they think about different things,” Brown said.

In addition to being at the Destin Fishing Rodeo every day, Brown will be helping out with a children’s parade at the captain’s party next week, participating in the Destin Christmas parade and passing out waters for a half marathon later this year.

“I haven’t done it before but I’ve heard it’s so much fun,” she said about working at the Rodeo. “I know nothing about fishing except for the fact that I really love to eat fish.”

The meet and greet was held on the Henderson’s Grand Lawn. A buffet-style shrimp boil, complete with desserts and refreshments, was provided for attendees.

“We are extremely honored to have the 70th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo kick-off event here at the Henderson,” added Tovah Locke, the senior marketing and communication manager for the Henderson.

In previous years, the kick-off event has been held on the harbor, but Donaldson said that they had outgrown their previous space and the Henderson was the perfect new location.

“The Henderson reached out and said they wanted to do something for the Rodeo,” Donaldson said. “They have gone over the top. It’s an absolutely gorgeous setting, a lovely event and we’re just excited to be here.”

“I’ve seen some different faces than we normally see, which is great for the Rodeo,” Donaldson said.

The Captain and Mates event and Reel Local Kick-Off Party next week are all that’s left before the Rodeo officially begins and the fish start being weighed on Oct. 1.