New director, new artist

41st Destin Seafood Festival is taking shape

Tina Harbuck

With a new director in place and artwork selected, the 41st Destin Seafood Festival is coming together.

The festival, scheduled for Oct. 4-6, takes place along the Destin harbor from HarborWalk to Heron Harbor. The three-day event will feature local and regional seafood, art, crafts and entertainment.

Plus the event is also a charitable event that benefits the Destin Charter Boat Association. The DCBA in turn puts the money right back into the community providing a scholarship for the Miss Destin recipient as well as helping fishermen who are down on their luck. The DCBA has also helped with improvements at the Destin Little League Park.

The new executive director for this year's festival is Cayse Collins. A resident of Destin since 1982 has been to nearly every seafood festival.

“I’ve actually served as a vendor at the seafood festival,” Collins said, noting her husband who is a musician has played in the festival on occasion.

So when Jami Jones, who served as director of the festival for five years, stepped down, Collins made some inquires.

“I put out some feelers and asked who was taking over and they said 'How about you?'” Collins said. “It was kind of serendipitous for us how it worked out. I am excited.”

Jones, who also co-owns the Big Red Grill with her husband Casey, said she stepped down as director when they decided to open a new restaurant in Niceville.

“I knew I wouldn’t have the time it takes to run the festival correctly,” she said. “I was born in 1978, same year as the festival. I feel like getting the festival to the 40th year was a nice way to move on.”

And the 41st is starting to take shape.

“We’ve gotten quite a few (vendor applications) and they are still coming in,” Collins said.

The last day to apply for a vendor spot at the festival is Saturday.

However, Collins said, anything postmarked Saturday is still good.

“We’re right on track with last year’s festival,” she said, noting the 2018 festival had 100 to 125 vendors.

“It’s really interesting to see all the different kinds of things … I’m intrigued to see how many fishing-related items there are. They fall right in line with the culture here in Destin.”

Representing the festival with his artwork is local fisherman and artist Michael Seth Williams.

Williams’s artwork was one of 11 entries for this year’s festival poster/T-shirt. The artwork was selected by a committee.

“The detail in his artwork is absolutely stunning and amazing … it’s so beautiful and different from things we have done in the last several years,” Collins said. “It’s actually a print of a redfish he caught.”

“I’m super excited,” Williams said about being selected.

Williams, who lives in Destin, said he’s always had pen or pencil in his hand drawing from nature.

“I’m big into ink and watercolor and I do a lot of free-hand drawing,” he said.

As for the redfish depicted in his design selected for this year’s poster, it is a print of a 26-inch redfish he caught while kayak fishing on Choctawhatchee Bay.

“I feel like the redfish is the new red snapper and is equally iconic when it comes to sport fishing in the Destin area,” he said.

He made a Gyotaku print of his redfish and combined it with his illustrative style implementing charts into a piece that caught the festival committee’s eye.

“What’s not better than incorporating the Choctawhatchee Bay into the fish where it was caught, and blending the spirit and elements that embody it,” he said.

When asked which he loves best, fishing or art, he said, “That’s a hard question. They kind of go hand in hand.

“I love it (fishing), it’s my passion. It builds up inspiration for the winter,” he added.

Other pieces of Williams’s artwork can be seen on his website at

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