What drives a 76-year-old grandmother of 29 to walk the docks and hand out books during the Destin Fishing Rodeo?
Linda Hall’s answer is simple — “People need to know.”
“It just surprises me that so many people don’t know what this is about,” Hall said, looking at the Rodeo barge and holding a stack of Rodeo guide books in one hand and a rod and reel in the other. “They need to … it’s more fun if you know what’s going on, you know about Bruce, you know about Miss Destin … you just know things.”
The Destin Fishing Rodeo guide book covers everything from a little history about Destin to rules of the Rodeo, who can enter, a bio of Miss Destin Brooke O’Keefe and a tale or two from weighmaster Bruce Cheves, as well as a list of events happening throughout the month along the harbor.
Hall has been coming down and helping spread the word for about 15 years, but this is her first time to do it without her husband of 60 years, Bill, who passed away 11 months ago.
“The Rodeo is something we always did together,” she said. “It was hard to come down, but there is so many nice people, friendly people, family people and they are just like family. It was hard. But he would want me to.”
Over the years, Bill and Linda helped out where they could with the Rodeo.
“Bill and I rolled T-shirts, fixed rod and reels for the children … just anything they needed for us to do … we would do,” she said.
However, when The Log caught up with her early this week she was handing out guide books and talking to the children about how the Rodeo gives away free rod and reels.
“Her walking around and trying to find a kid that needs or really deserves a fishing pole … that comes from the heart,” said weighmaster Cheves. “That’s the kind of people we like around here.
“You give away a lot, you’ll get back way more than you’ll think you’ll get back,” he added.
Hall said she tries to come down every day.
“People need to know what’s going on instead of walking by and looking and saying, ‘what is this?’
“I think they should know … and they’ll come back year after year just for the Rodeo,” she said.
In addition to handing out Rodeo guide books, Hall has been known to come down in the morning with donuts, which she said she does back home in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the nursing home.
“I’m the donut lady for the nursing home back home,” she said. Down here, “I’m, 'Hey you,'” she laughed.
It’s apparent that Hall loves the Rodeo with the countless hours she spends walking around the crowd and talking about the Rodeo.
However, she said, “My daughter-in-law says I’d talk to a stump.”