'The queen of volunteers'

Sheri Kotzum | 315-4353 | @DestinLogSheri |
"Queen of volunteers" Ann White talks to customers at the Destin Fishing Rodeo T-Shirt trailer. White has been a volunteer at the Rodeo for 25 years. [SHERI KOTZUM/THE LOG]

For 25 years, Ann White has volunteered at the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

“Once I stepped in (the Rodeo office), I was hooked and I haven’t looked back since,” White said.

Referred to by her friends and co-workers as a jack-of-all-trades, White does just about everything for the Rodeo. When she isn’t in the Rodeo trailer selling the infamous Rodeo T-shirts, she can be seen on the docks gutting fish in her bare feet or running around the boardwalk talking to visitors and friends.

“This is just too much fun,” she said. “There’s no drama and I just love to see the fish.”

When she isn’t working for the Rodeo, White works as an interior decorator at her company, Ann White Interiors. But she said her clients know the Rodeo becomes her life during the month of October.

“I do this more than my other job and I love it,” she said. “It actually brings those people down here who haven’t ever heard of it. Some of my clients come down and bet on how much the fish weigh.”

While White’s work for the Rodeo is most obvious in October, 2018 Rodeo chairman John Brashears said White plays a crucial role all year long.

“She orders the shirts, she talks to our advertisers all year long and helps with publicity," Brashears said. "She’s in the middle of all of it.”

It’s obvious how well known and loved White is around the harbor. Minutes after sitting at a table in front of AJ’s, a waitress brings White a frosty drink and thanks her for her hard work.

“I don’t go hungry or thirsty,” White said. “I know everybody’s face because they come down every year and they stop in to see me. They love to come and talk and buy a T-shirt.”

“Ann is the queen of volunteers,” said Brashears, who has also been a volunteer for the Rodeo for 14 years. “Ann will do anything and everything you ask her to, whenever you need her to.”

And she doesn’t show any signs of stopping. White said she will continue working with the Rodeo for as long as she can.

Although she said she prefers to be on the docks, slinging around fish guts and enjoying the festivities, the T-shirt trailer is her main priority.

“It’s just crazy how big the Rodeo is getting,” White said. “We started with a tiny table, to a trailer, to an even bigger trailer and from one color T-shirt to multiple colors.”

As she runs around the unconditioned T-shirt trailer with sweat pouring off of her face, White’s smile never leaves. Her friendly demeanor and upbeat personality makes customers feel right at home as they select their own Rodeo T-shirt.

“The T-shirt trailer would not function without her,” said Brashears

“From the dog sitter to the mailman, everybody has to have a Rodeo T-shirt,” White said.