Business community celebrates Independence Day with Great American Cookout at chamber

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Just because the Fourth of July has passed, doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate Independence Day. 

The Destin Chamber of Commerce hosted the ninth annual Great American Cookout, this year sponsored by Community Bank and Emerald Coast Title Services, around noon Tuesday. 

The Destin Chamber of Commerce hosted a Great American Cookout on Tuesday sponsored by Emerald Coast Title Services and Community Bank.

About 100 people from various business industries around town came out to enjoy a burger, hotdog, chips and more at the annual cookout. 

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“It’s just to celebrate Independence Day in the month of July and to bring our membership together to do something fun with an outdoor cookout,” said Shane Moody, president and CEO of the chamber. “It’s a bit different than what we usually do, very informal, a lot of fun."

About a 100 people from the business industry came out for the ninth annual Great American Cookout at the Destin Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

Folks had a chance to grab a burger, hotdog or a huge dill pickle from under the big tent set up outside in the parking area and then take it into the gathering room inside to relax, eat and chat. 

“It brings everybody together to network and have a good time … just lighthearted and fun,” Moody said. 

Jason Belcher of First National Bank and Trust hasn’t missed any of the cookouts in the last nine years. 

Dion Moniz of Emerald Coast Title Services was busy flipping burgers on the grill for the ninth annual Great American Cookout at the Destin Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

“This is a good event for the chamber members to have a lot of fellowship and to get some sense as to what the summer is all about … which is a nice little barbecue, nice time sitting around talking to folks in a casual atmosphere,” Belcher said. 

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“I’ve been to every one, they’ve always been a lot of fun,” he added, sitting at a table surrounded by folks. 

Belcher said a lot of people come back year after year because it’s the type of event where “we get to let our hair down and have a little bit of fun.” 

Gale Colbourne of Emerald Coast Title Services serves up a burger to Courtney Luksha and Noah Chevez of Community Mortgage Brokers. This was their first time to attend the chamber cookout.

For Joshua Cowsert, director of marketing and sales for Parrot Head Yachts, this was his second cookout. His first was last year, right after moving to the area and getting set up in business.  

“We love the chamber events,” Cowsert said, noting they try to make as many as possible. 

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But he really enjoys the Great American Cookout event. 

“It’s the same people, but a different vibe,” he said, noting people are more relaxed. “It feels like a neighborhood block party.”

Jason Belcher of First National Bank and Trust and Shane Moody, president and CEO of the Destin Chamber, take a moment to catch up.

Wendi Davis, a membership development officer with Eglin FCU, said she has attended some of the chamber breakfast events but this was her first time to the cookout. 

“I love the chamber events and meeting people,” Davis said. 

Wendi Davis, center, of Eglin FCU, said this was her first time to come out for the cookout. "I love meeting the people," she said.

Tuesday’s cookout was a first for Noah Chevez of Community Mortgage Brokers. 

“I was excited to come,” he said as he grabbed a burger. “We saw it on social media … we like doing this kind of stuff.”

This was the ninth annual cookout and plans are already being made for next year.