Destin Fishing Rodeo merchandise is a 'have to,' but going quickly

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

If you’re thinking about getting a Destin Fishing Rodeo T-shirt for yourself or for a gift, better do it now. 

The coveted Destin Fishing Rodeo T-shirts are dwindling down. 

“They have been flying out the door,” said Ann White, who runs the Destin Fishing Rodeo merchandise trailer. 

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“It’s been a great year,” White said. 

The Rodeo, Destin’s longest running tradition, is a fishing tournament that runs the entire month of October. People come from all over the United State to not only fish, but watch the weigh-ins and listen to Weighmaster Bruce Cheves spin his fish tales. 

Volunteer Panama Chuck helps Doug and Kathy Haskell with some Destin Fishing Rodeo merchandise Wednesday.

But they also like to take home Rodeo merchandise, especially the T-shirts. Rodeo merchandise consists of caps, short and long sleeve T-shirts, hoodies and shirts for toddlers.  

However, a lot of those items are gone.  

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“We’ve sold probably about 3,500 pieces,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Destin Fishing Rodeo. “The first weekend was huge.” 

Donaldson explained she was a little afraid the first weekend because she had ordered extra shirts, anticipating a Destin Seafood Festival. But when the festival canceled, she was hoping she didn’t over order. 

"We had probably 500 spectators a day with all the fall breaks and people just swarming everywhere all day,” she said. 

From long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirts to hats and hoodies, the Destin Fishing Rodeo merchandise has you covered.

“With our great location in the Jumbotron plaza at AJ’s we get a lot of foot traffic. It’s been fabulous,” Donaldson said. “My goal is to have an empty trailer by Oct. 24.”

And right now, they are on their way. 

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“The bright colors went first,” said White, noting the bright orange, green and pink shirts were some of the first to go. 

The Rodeo had four basic designs this year for their shirts: the traditional, the circle shirt, the fish playing poker shirt and then the fish poster shirt. 

“The circle shirt went first, then the traditional,” White said. 

Customers line up to purchase merchandise at the Destin Fishing Rodeo Wednesday. Destin Fishing Rodeo T-shirts have been selling at brisk pace, with some sizes of shirts completely sold out.

“People like the traditional shirts for a collector's item,” White said. “I hear stories of people collecting them and making quilts and pillows from them. 

“And it’s fun to see the folks come up with the older shirts on and hear their stories,” she added. 

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Jodie Taube of Jonesboro, Arkansas, is a Rodeo regular and said getting a Rodeo T-shirt is a “have to.”  

Taube was at the merchandise trailer Wednesday evening buying her shirts. She said she likes to get a tank top for fishing and long sleeve for those cool days as well. 

"I always get the traditional,” she said pointing to it on the trailer wall. This is her 12th year to come to the Rodeo, buy shirts and fish. 

As a matter of fact, she got on the daily board earlier this week with a 70.6-pound amberjack caught aboard the Twilight with Capt. Robert Hill. 

A single medium shirt is all that remained at Destin Fishing Rodeo merchandise trailer Wednesday afternoon. Destin Fishing Rodeo merchandise has been selling at brisk pace, with some sizes of shirts completely sold out.

Right now, the merchandise trailer is down to L, XL and 2XL T-shirts. 

“We have all the designs left, but they are going fast,” White said. 

In addition to shirts, the Rodeo still has posters and caps. 

Donaldson said she doesn’t anticipate having a “last week” sale on items. 

“So, if you haven’t gotten your shirt, you need to come on down,” she added. 

The Rodeo merchandise trailer is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. through October or until merchandise sells out.