Volunteers are the heart beat of the rodeo

The volunteers that work in the Rodeo merchandise trailer gathered for a luncheon at AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar Tuesday.

When it comes to Destin's oldest tradition, the Destin Fishing Rodeo, it could be said that it takes a village of volunteers to raise a rodeo.

With the 66th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo just days away, volunteers from the fishing village continue to come out of the woodwork to lend a hand in making the month long fishing event a success.

"We are covered up with volunteers," said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the rodeo.

"But it's a wonderful dilemma to have. We're trying to figure where we are going to put everybody. We hate to turn away someone."

Right now the rodeo has about 20 ladies that will man the merchandise trailer and another 50 or more people signed up to work the judges table.

"We always have less than that and have to put people on for three or four days," Donaldson said of the judges. However, this year it won't be a problem to fill the judge’s calendar. A rodeo judge is responsible for filling out the paperwork on catches that are brought to the rodeo scales located behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar throughout the month.

"Volunteers are what make the rodeo and we love them and we're happy to have this problem. But we're at that point where we don't know where we'd put another volunteer … but things could change tomorrow."

"It just goes to show what wonderful people we have in this community and how much support they have of our event. It truly is a community event and everybody comes together for the good of the whole. And we're excited that it is all happening."

The Destin Fishing Rodeo will go throughout October with weigh-ins daily on the docks behind AJ’s from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.