While most high school seniors might struggle balancing school, social life and work, Miss Destin 2018 Ellen Brown says it’s a piece of cake.
At the Destin Fishing Rodeo’s Meet Miss Destin event in September, Brown wasn’t sure what to expect for her first Rodeo. But now that it’s halfway through, she feels right at home.
"It’s been a lot easier than I was expecting,” Brown said. “At first, I was really nervous, I didn’t know what they were gonna have me do. A lot of other Miss Destin’s have been around fish before and I’ve been to the Rodeo as a kid, but I haven’t really been in this kind of atmosphere before.”
Even though Brown was crowned Miss Destin 2018 in April, her reign didn’t really start until a few weeks ago, as the Fishing Rodeo geared up for it’s 70th year.
The 17-year-old Niceville High School senior spends every day after school and her weekends hanging out on the Rodeo’s barge used to weigh the fish, posing for pictures with the fish and handing out fishing poles to kids, her infectious smile never leaving her face.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “Somedays, I’m a little more tired if I haven’t eaten or it was a late night but I’m usually fine.”
Brown said one of her most memorable experiences was when a young girl dropped her stuffed unicorn into the harbor. After they fished it out with nets, Brown jokingly asked her mom if she wanted them to weigh it, to which the girl vigorously nodded her head.
“We ended up weighing it and she looked at me and goes ‘Uni, you made it!’” Brown said. “It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. She ended up hanging out with me for like 30 more minutes.”
Balancing school with her duties as Miss Destin hasn’t been that difficult so far, according to Brown. She said she was able to arrange her schedule so her harder classes were early in the morning, leaving her time to do her homework during her easier classes.
Her social life hasn’t suffered either. Brown said her friends come down to the Rodeo to see her all the time.
“Most of them live in Niceville, so they’ve never been to the Rodeo and they like to come see what I do,” she said. “And my family is super supportive and come down all the time.”
Before the Rodeo, Brown said she couldn’t tell the fish apart. Now, she knows the names of every fish that comes through the Rodeo, as well as which ones taste the best.
“Scamp,” Brown said. “I’ve heard some people say red grouper or mahi mahi, but most of the people down here say scamp.”