Merchandise sales reflect successful rodeo

Annie Blanks | 315-4450 | @DestinLogAnnie | ablanks@thedestinlog.com
The Destin Fishing Rodeo T-shirt trailer, located beside AJ's on the Destin harbor, has been a hub this year for people flocking to get their rodeo merchandise. The rodeo sells T-shirts, hats, mugs, posters and jackets. ANNIE BLANKS/THE LOG

If merchandise sales are any reflection of this year’s Destin Fishing Rodeo, it’s been another successful year for the 68-year-old tournament.

Officials were reluctant to give specific numbers, but volunteer Ann White, who is in charge of merchandise sales, said “thousands” of T-shirts have been sold since the rodeo began October 1.

“This year has been great,” White said. “I have to rearrange the T-shirt board every day because we keep running out of things.”

White said the perfect weather so far at this year’s tournament, with not a single day of rain, likely drew more people to the rodeo, and more people means more sales.

“Every day it was just hundreds of people,” she said. “It’s been nuts.”

Destin Fishing Rodeo director Helen Donaldson said you’d be hard pressed to go anywhere in the area and not see somebody wearing a rodeo T-shirt.

“We just try to make it bigger and better every year,” Donaldson said, adding that next year they plan to order “less smalls and more double extra larges.”

White said the designs change each year.

Officials alternate between a pirate and a shark theme every year, so next year the T-shirts will look a little bit different. She also said every five years or so they bring back a classic favorite, so in two years when the tournament turns 70, they’ll bring back a crowd favorite.

“Everyone has been asking for the denim shirt,” White said. “We’ll probably bring that back for the 70th (rodeo).”

T-shirt sales are the driving force behind the tournament, according to Donaldson. She said money from merchandise sales goes toward the anglers’ prizes, operating costs and scholarship funds for Miss Destin and the Ronald McDonald House.

But the shirts serve another important purpose besides generating revenue, according to White. She said the fishing rodeo T-shirts are an instant classic, and most people can’t visit Destin during the month of October without getting at least one.

“People love the Destin Fishing Rodeo because it’s a piece of Destin heritage,” she said. “And these T-shirts represent that heritage.”