Rodeo wear is flying off the shelves

Tina Harbuck

Without a doubt, the Destin Fishing Rodeo, which is celebrating it’s 71st birthday this year, is Destin’s longest running tradition.

And although the biggest draw is the fish, running a close second is getting that annual Rodeo T-shirt.

“The locals are here on the first day ... I want to get my shirt before you run out,” said Destin Fishing Rodeo executive director Helen Donaldson.

Since Oct. 1, the Rodeo has sold almost 4,000 pieces of Rodeo merchandise from T-shirts, tank tops, visors, caps, long sleeves and fleece.

But not too fret, there is still some to go around.

“We still have a lot of long sleeve T-shirts because it was so warm the beginning of the month,” Donaldson said.

Plus there is still plenty of fleece and raincoats on the shelves as well as dry-fit shirts.

The only shirt the Rodeo has had to reorder this season was the Chairman’s Choice shirt, which is the T-shirt that sports a rack of fish under the charter boat name “Mystery” with the word’s “It Ain’t my first Rodeo.”

But in addition to the “Mystery” shirt, the traditional and dolphin shirt have been big sellers.

“We’ve had some really good designs this year,” Donaldson said. “The traditional is always the biggest seller because people want that annual traditional Rodeo shirt.

“And the biggest color as always is that aqua or anything with purple in it ... they just fly off the shelf,” she added.

But what’s the big deal about Rodeo wear?

“Dress like a local,” Donaldson said. “Every where you go in Destin, no matter what time of year it is, you walk into a tackle store or walk into the marina or walk along the dock, you’re going to run into four or five people wearing a Rodeo shirt.

“I know when I go on vacation, I don’t want to feel like a tourist,” she added. “I’m going to go to that restaurant because that’s where the locals eat or I’m going to go to this store because that’s where the locals shop. It’s popular for the tourists because they want to be like the locals. Plus they want an event shirt,” she said.

Long-time Rodeo volunteer Marion Palmgren said, “Tourist want to go back home and show off where they have been ... that’s a huge part of it.”

Plus Rodeo wear makes for great gifts, said Rodeo photographer Jake Brashears.

“I know people that get some for their family every year,” he said.

“That’s the tradition of it,” Donaldson said.

Another tradition the merchandise trailer has every year is an end-of-Rodeo sale.

Starting Wednesday, Oct. 23, the Rodeo will put anything that has a 2019 on it on sale.

“We’re going to do a buy two get one free sale,” Donaldson said. “This is open ended ... so I don’t know how long it will last.”

Does the Rodeo have enough merchandise to go around?

“I hope we run out three days before the end,” Donaldson said with a laugh. “I’d love to run out of everything ... but right now we’ve got plenty.”

The Rodeo merchandise trailer is located near the jumbotron at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.