Farewell to Miss Destin Lauren Adams: A fish fileting, roll with the punches, unflappable girl
More than 60 people gathered to say goodbye to Miss Destin 2020 Lauren Adams during a farewell party at The Inn on Destin Harbor on Thursday evening.
Miss Destin’s primary is to serve throughout October during the Destin Fishing Rodeo, Destin’s longest running tradition.
“We had a great time during the rodeo. The weather was good, we weighed a lot of fish. It almost didn’t seem like a rodeo in a pandemic,” said Helen Donaldson, the executive director.
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"She did a great job … she just rolled with the punches,” Donaldson said of Adams. “We had to change up a lot of things and she just made it happen.”
The farewell party was held in lieu of the “meet Miss Destin party” that is usually held after the pageant to give people a chance to meet her. But due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring of last year and the pageant being pushed back to the summer, a meet-and-greet didn’t happen.
However, rodeo staff didn’t want Lauren Adams to miss out on some of the pageantry of her time as Miss Destin. So AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar provided the food and The Inn on Destin Harbor provided the venue for the farewell party.
Jeannie Scott, manager of The Inn, presented Adams with a bouquet of flowers.
“This year with the pandemic, it has been a different situation,” Adams told those who gathered.
She said she tried for the crown three years in a row and had watched Ellen Brown and Brooke O’Keefe during their reigns as Miss Destin.
“It was totally a different circumstance that I had to go through,” she said.
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However, Adams said looking at the prospective Miss Destin candidates that were in attendance at The Inn, “these girls are fortunate enough to be able to have all the experiences.”
Adams introduced the candidates who were there then thanked everyone for an “amazing year.”
Although her time as Miss Destin was a bit different with lockdowns and mask wearing and such, she left those around her with a few memories.
Mark Luciani, who served as dock master of sorts on the rodeo barge alongside Weighmaster Bruce Cheves, said he spent 27 of the 31-day rodeo with Miss Destin.
“She was just the most hardworking … and between boats she would study. She’d meet the kids, take all the pictures with the awards, help pull up fish … she was doing it all,” Luciani said.
“She was an incredible young lady. Just incredible,” Luciani added.
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His most memorable moment of Miss Destin Lauren Adams was the night they made her gut a fish.
“A fish came to the scales that wasn’t gutted … and we made her gut the fish. She was a quick learner. She got it down pat, and now she’s good with a knife,” he said.
Ann White, rodeo volunteer and board member, also commented on Adam's fish-cleaning skills.
“She did a good job of cutting the fish. Kudos to her,” said White, who also likes to get her hands dirty on occasion gutting fish.
Rodeo volunteer Kathy Lipman said, "I think she just did a great job down at the rodeo.
“She really wanted to participate. She got right in there with Bruce. She was willing to filet fish, she was willing to do whatever,” Lipham said.
“I was excited to watch her do it all,” she added, noting that she was down at the rodeo two-thirds of the time.
“We come down there as much as we can. We love it … we love the rodeo,” Lipham said.
Donaldson said Adams was the most “roll with the punches” kind of girl you’d ever want to know.
“We didn’t know what the rodeo was going to be in a pandemic … and she was like, 'OK, OK,'” Donaldson said.
There were questions as to whether to wear a mask or not, how close to stand to fishermen and other precautions.
“But she was like, no worries. She was unflappable … with a smile on her face. (I) just loved being around her,” Donaldson said.