Miss Destin contestants gather for soda party, first stop on pageant road
After dealing with delays and cancellations last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the road to Miss Destin is getting back to some normalcy.
Tuesday afternoon, the eight girls vying to serve as Miss Destin 2021 gathered along with family and pageant committee members at the Destin History and Fishing Museum in the Rodeo Gallery for a soda party, the girls' first official event.
Who will be Miss Destin?:Eight girls to vie for Miss Destin 2021; to reign over the 73rd Destin Fishing Rodeo
The contestants vying for Miss Destin 2021 are Kathryn Ballard, Molly Bettinger, Kasidy Braden, Ella Kathryn Campbell, Whitney O’Keefe, Savannah Pitchlynn, Kaylie Sparks and Bella Wasson.
The Miss Destin pageant is not a beauty contest; the girls are judged on personality, communication skills and availability to serve at the 73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo in October. Along with the title of Miss Destin, the winner will receive a $2,000 academic scholarship.
Miss Destin 2020 Lauren Adams was on hand at Tuesday's soda party to share with the girls some of the things they can expect as Miss Destin, with the Rodeo topping the list.
“You can’t be scared to touch a fish, and you can’t be scared to learn to filet a fish … but you don’t have to do it, but it’s cool,” Adams said.
Miss Destin’s primary job is to be down at the Destin Fishing Rodeo every afternoon during the month-long event in October to greet folks, pose for photographs with anglers and be a general ambassador of sorts for Destin.
This past year, Adams missed out on a few events around town because of the pandemic, but she did participate in the Destin Christmas Parade, the drive-thru Christmas Party at the Destin Community Center in lieu of the usual tree lighting, and the Easter Egg drive-thru at Morgan Sports Center.
Words of advice
“Don’t throw too much candy too fast,” Adams said of the Christmas parade. “I learned that the hard way. I ran out of candy about two-thirds through.”
Although this past year was different because of the pandemic and social distancing, Adams encouraged the girls to “just be involved … get involved.”
Miss Destin 2020:Pageant road to Miss Destin a bit different in 2020
She has stepped out and asked to participate in the Boshamps Flathead Cobia Tournament set for April 16-18.
“That’s just another outreach you can do,” Adams said.
"If I would have to say anything it would definitely be yourself and be confident in who you truly are. There will be times where you feel like you are stepping out of your comfort zone but those are the moments that make you grow," she said.
"Have a good time and remember why you want to be Miss Destin in the first place," Adams added.
After introductions, the girls participated in a photo shoot and enjoyed a tour of the museum with Kathy Marler-Blue, its executive director, before sitting down with some soda and treats.
Up next for Miss Destin contestants
The next stop on the pageant road is a harbor cruise April 29 aboard the Southern Star. As part of the day, the girls are asked to bring a poster that represents themselves.
“But it doesn’t have your picture or your name on it. Make a poster that tells your story,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Destin Fishing Rodeo.
“The boat cruise is just fun,” said Donaldson, who noted that they can bring their parents and family. As a matter of fact, Donaldson said parents are invited to come to “everything that we do.”
After the cruise comes the judges tea on May 2. That is where the girls will be interviewed by the four judges for the pageant.
Donaldson encouraged the girls not to be nervous. “It will be questions that you already know the answers to,” she said.
Last on the list of events, and end of the road, is the pageant set for May 8 at Shoreline Church.