Past Miss Destins return to volunteer at Rodeo

Dusty Ricketts
Past Miss Destins Amber Hill (1996) and Amber Helton (2005) serve as judges during day 14 of the Destin Fishing Rodeo. [MICHAEL SNYDER/THE LOG] .

After 31 days, the Destin Fishing Rodeo has a habit of getting in the blood of Miss Destin.

So much so that past Miss Destins come back year after year to help out to make sure the Rodeo runs smoothly. That happened on Saturday when Miss Destin 1996 Amber Hill and Miss Destin 2005 Amber Helton volunteered as Rodeo judges recording the day’s catches.

“Initially I wanted to be Miss Destin because I didn’t grow up here, so I wanted to be part of the community and get to know more people and darn if that didn’t happen,” Hill said. “I met my husband (Robert Hill) as Miss Destin. He’s the captain of the Twilight. (Being Miss Destin) probably changed the whole course of my life.”

Hill has volunteered as a judge at the Rodeo every year since her year as Miss Destin.

Helton had been a judge for the Rodeo, but not for the past several years because she had moved to Fairhope, Alabama. However, she moved back to Destin in March of this year and is planning to judge again later this month.

“It kind of rekindles everything I got to do for 31 days,” Helton said. “And I just love my town. I love my town. I want to do everything. I want to be involved in everything.”

This was the first time Hill had ever judged with another past Miss Destin.

“Amber is 10 years younger than me, so we didn’t really know each other well before now,” Hill said. “It’s been fun.”

Other former Miss Destins who have come back to judge this year or are scheduled to do so in the coming weeks include: Angela Hayles, Miss Destin 1997 and the current chair of the Rodeo; Brooke Windes, Miss Destin 2001; and Kira Moraca, Miss Destin 2014.

“It’s so great that we have so many Miss Destins that come back every year,” said Helen Donaldson, director of the Rodeo. “They love it when they come down here. They don’t know what they’re getting themselves into and it stays with them for a lifetime.”