Liphams are hooked on volunteering at the Destin Fishing Rodeo

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

From the judge's table on the weigh-in barge to rolling and folding T-shirts in the merchandise trailer, Kathy and Wayne Lipham are proof that once you visit and volunteer at the Destin Fishing Rodeo, you’re hooked. 

The Liphams first visited the Rodeo in the 1990s while vacationing in the area. 

“We started coming down and experiencing it … and planned our trips in October so we could be here for it, to go fishing and to watch,” Kathy said. 

Wayne and Kathy Lipham have been volunteering at the Destin Fishing Rodeo for more than five years and love their time on the water.

“We did both,” Wayne added. 

“If we weren’t fishing, we’d be watching the weigh-ins every day,” Kathy added. 

Coming down from northern Georgia, they stayed longer and longer every October to get in on the Rodeo action.

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And once they made the move to Miramar Beach and settled in, they decided to get involved.  

Kathy said they attended a Rodeo meeting a few years back and there were signup sheets for people to volunteer. 

Kathy Lipham chats with one of the young anglers who came to the Destin Fishing Rodeo on Saturday to weigh his fish.

“I thought being a Rodeo judge would be kind of fun,” she said. “We’ve been down here and watched so much and we love fishing, so we signed up for that.” 

That was about five or six years ago. This year Kathy signed up for the Miss Destin pageant as well as the T-shirt booth and as a judge. A judge is located on the weigh-in barge and gets to see the fish first hand as well as record the information about the catch for the official records. 

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Wayne helped in the T-shirt booth as well. 

“I didn’t sign up for that, but I got volunteered for that,” he said as he looked over at Kathy. “Ms. Ann (White, manager of the merchandise trailer) put me to work.”

Wayne Lipham watches as a young angler gets her photo taken with Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks on Saturday at the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Wayne says he loves seeing the kids with their fish.

“He’s really good at rolling up shirts,” Kathy said with a smile on her face. 

The Rodeo staff appreciates their time as volunteers. 

"For years they have been fabulous Rodeo judges, and this year they stepped up and helped out in the merchandise trailer,” Executive Director Helen Donaldson said. “They have folded and rolled shirts for days, and have worked to sell and straighten shirts. They are just fabulous all-around Rodeo volunteers.

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“They started off as judges and now they are here all the time … just about as much as me,” she added with a laugh. 

Kathy Lipham, a Destin Fishing Rodeo volunteer, hands out Rodeo guidebooks to the crowd Saturday.

The Liphams enjoy volunteering. 

“I just like seeing people come in and how happy they are to come in with a fish and waiting to see if they make the board. I think that’s kind of cool,” Kathy said. 

“I love to see these fish come in,” Wayne said. “That excites me, big or small.” 

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“I prefer being down here because you get to see the fish, but I like working up there (the merchandise trailer) to see what people want and say about everything,” Kathy said. 

Kathy said she can’t believe how fast the shirts sell.  

Wayne Lipham tosses out a rope at the weigh-in station at the Destin Fishing Rodeo on Saturday as one of the boats pull in to weigh its catches.

“People come down and say 'I’ve been collecting these since 1980 or whatever year. ... They are always into getting a new shirt,” Kathy said. 

As for Wayne, he likes it down on the water. 

“I prefer being down here because I love seeing the fish come and these little kids that get off with their fish. I just like it. It’s fun,” he said. 

Wayne and Kathy Lipham serve as Destin Fishing Rodeo judges on Saturday, taking down official information on the catches brought to the scales.

The couple are already planning to volunteer again next year. 

“I told him, I may have to cut back on working so I can volunteer more,” Kathy said. 

“We love it,” Wayne added. 

Wayne and Kathy Lipham of Miramar Beach love volunteering at the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Wayne is a retired firefighter from Fulton County, Georgia, while Kathy works part-time in a local attorney’s office and manages three condo associations in the area.