A signature event

Long-time Rodeo volunteer creating unique keepsake

Sheri Kotzum | 315-4353 | @DestinLogSheri |
Miss Destin Ellen Brown signs Pete DeBogory's shirt that has been signed by Miss Destins since 2009. [TINA HARBUCK/THE LOG]

T-shirts are a staple of the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

The first fishing Rodeo T-shirts were white, although no one can remember the exact year they started being sold. But there is a white T-shirt that holds a special place in one of the Rodeo judges’ heart.

Pete DeBogory bought a Bruce Cheves shirt as a part of a fundraiser for the Rodeo weighmaster in 2009. But instead of keeping the shirt for himself to wear, DeBogory had a different plan in mind. Since he bought the shirt, DeBogory has made it a point to get Cheves and that year's Miss Destin to sign it every year.

“I figured at some point, it could be another fundraiser for Bruce,” DeBogory said.

Even though the name of Miss Destin has changed, Cheve’s signature remains the same throughout the years.

“I’ve got every Miss Destin on here except for 2016,” DeBogory said.

When asked why he missed that year, he replied “I was hunting that year.”

DeBogory said he would love to get all of the Miss Destin’s, present and future to sign it.

Ellen Brown, Miss Destin 2018, said it was surreal to add her signature to the shirt.

“Signing my name next to people like Petyon (LoCicero) and Callie Kaltz, it was just crazy,” Brown said. “I feel like I’m officially part of the club now.”

DeBogory has no plans of stopping his yearly tradition any time soon.

“I’ll do this for as long as Bruce remains weighmaster,” he said. “Then I’ll give it to Helen (Donaldson, the Rodeo director) and let the Rodeo auction it off.”

Cheves has been the Destin Fishing Rodeo’s weighmaster for 34 years. He’s known for his booming voice and multitudes of stories. He’s such a staple for the Rodeo that he’s even got a day named in his honor. This year, Bruce Cheves Day will fall on Oct. 16.