Destin’s 73rd Annual Fishing Rodeo Kicks Off!

Fall is in the air, and as the afternoon high temperatures on Florida’s Gulf Coast drop from the 90s to the 80s, the sunsets become more colorful, the traffic on Highway 98 subsides, and the traffic out of Destin’s East Pass to Gulf of Mexico gets heavier. Autumn on the beaches of the Emerald Coast means the boats are off the docks, and the fish are on the scales with the Destin Fishing Rodeo in high gear. 

Destin’s 73rd Annual Fishing Rodeo kicks off October 1, 2021. Each year, more than 30,000 anglers participate on approximately 100 fishing boats during this month-long event each year. Anyone who fishes on a registered Fishing Charter Boat or Party Boat (Head Boat) during the month of October is eligible to weigh in a fish. 35 different species of fish are eligible for weigh-in. There are 25 divisions to include Charter Boats, Party Boats, Kayak fishing, Paddleboard fishing, Pier, Bridge, Jetty, and Surf fishing. Prizes are also awarded to 1st and 2nd Place King Mackerel, Gag Grouper, Amberjack, and Blackfin Tuna in the Juniors, Seniors, and Ladies’ Divisions. A certificate is also awarded to every child that weighs in a fish.

Opening weekend, we celebrate the heritage of Destin Harbor with Harbor Fest taking place at HarborWalk Village. Festivities include live music, vendor booths, artisans, and fresh, local seafood. Everything gets started Friday, October 1 at 4:00 pm. Live entertainment will “Rock the Docks” from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm on Saturday, and fireworks show over East Pass will open the Rodeo with a bang. 

Sunday, October 3, hit the road for the Rodeo Run, a 5K Run to benefit the Miss Destin Scholarship Fund. Race route begins and ends at Clement Taylor Park and winds through the quaint neighborhoods of historic Destin to the turnaround at Joe’s Bayou.

Events continue throughout the month, so make sure to bring the kids down at 1:00 pm on October 11 for the free Kids’ Fall Movie on AJ’s Jumbo-tron! Complimentary hot dogs, popcorn, and snowcones will be offered for lunch.

Everyone loves a parade, and the Destin Fishing Rodeo delivers! Friday, October 15 is the Kids’ Wagon Boat Parade which rolls down the docks at 6:00 pm. A Destin rite of passage, children ages 4-12 design their wagons to resemble their favorite boat. Free activities for kids include face painting, arts and crafts. 

“Hang ‘Em High” on Shark Saturday! Every Saturday during the Rodeo, we expect to see some huge sharks weighed in! What little one can’t help but be fascinated by a shark bigger than themselves? Prizes are awarded to the largest shark weighed in each week.

Scales are open 10:00 am-7:00 pm daily on the dock behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar on Destin Harbor. Fish are weighed in throughout the day, and we see some big fish get weighed in. There are bleachers for spectators to enjoy watching the boats unload and weigh their catch, as well as opportunities to meet and greet with Miss Destin, fishing tales told by Weighmaster, Bruce Cheves. 

The month-long event offers live music at AJ’s each evening, Football on the Jumbo-tron on the weekends. Free concerts and fireworks over the neighboring HarborWalk Village take place every Saturday night in October. Come down and bring the children to this free family fun event. It’s a Destin Tradition‐‐‐See you at the Rodeo Docks!

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