'Meet Miss Destin' event kicks off Destin Fishing Rodeo season

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

The 73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo season has officially begun. 

About 75 people came out to meet and wish Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks well at the “Meet Miss Destin” event Thursday evening held downstairs at Harbor Docks Restaurant. 

“I’m so excited there are so many people here that I don’t really know, but learning to know and getting to know,” Sparks said as she walked around and greeted people. “Everyone is so excited to tell me how I’m going to love it.

Destin Fishing Rodeo executive director Helen Donaldson presented Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks with flowers and wished her well for the upcoming Rodeo which starts Oct. 1.

“It’s just exciting to see how excited everybody is for this month and to be a part of it every day,” she added. 

More Rodeo news:No triggerfish, no red grouper, no problem, Destin Rodeo puts shark across the board

The Destin Fishing Rodeo, Destin’s longest running tradition, is a month-long fishing tournament that draws anglers from all over the United States to Destin in October to compete for prizes and bragging rights for landing the biggest fish. The Rodeo has more than 200 spots on the leaderboard with almost every species represented giving anglers many chances to get on the board. 

“I’m looking forward to the whole experience,” Sparks said. 

Kaylie Sparks is Miss Destin 2021 and will be serving at the 73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo throughout the month of October.

“I’ve heard the sharks are what to be excited about,” she said, noting one of the volunteers said they were a lot of fun. “I’ve had multiple people tell me that.”

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Sparks has been busy this summer representing Destin at the Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras parades at HarborWalk Village, as well as getting back in school. 

About 75 people showed up for the Meet Miss Destin event at Harbor Docks Thursday afternoon. Chatting with one another at the event (from left) are Heidi LoCicero, Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks, her sister Morgan Sparks, and John Brashears, who serves on the board of the Rodeo.

But she’s “ready for October.” 

Miss Destin 2020 Lauren Adams was also at the event Thursday to wish Sparks well. 

“I’m going to come see you guys … 100 percent,” Adams said, noting she enjoyed her time as Miss Destin. “I will be there the first day.” 

Miss Destin 2020 Lauren Adams came by Thursday evening to wish Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks well.

Other folks who are very familiar with the Miss Destin routine of sorts were mothers of past Miss Destin's. 

Heidi LoCicero, mother of Peyton LoCicero, Miss Destin 2011, was giving Sparks advice on what to wear. 

“Be sure you have a rain coat,” Heidi said. 

Capt. Mike Eller of the Lady Em posed for a photo or two with Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks at the Thursday night event at Harbor Docks.

The Rodeo usually has a few rainy days throughout October. 

But before the actual fishing begins, the Reel Local Rodeo Kick-Off Party and captain’s meeting is set for Sept. 29 at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. Captains can still register for the Rodeo starting at 4 p.m. with the meeting set for 5 p.m. The family-fun gathering and cookout starts about 6 p.m. 

Everybody is invited to the kickoff. 

Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks poses for a photo with two young hopefuls, Aleena Yahne and Maggie Bowen.

“Let’s just kick off the Rodeo with a big hurrah,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Rodeo. 

Fishing begins Oct. 1.