It’s not even 1 p.m. on a hot Friday afternoon and Ann White is already running around the Destin Fishing Rodeo merchandise trailer grabbing different colors, sizes and styles for customers waiting patiently at the windows.
The largest crowds don’t arrive till the evening to view the day’s catches, but those who are already at the harbor clamor to get their piece of the historic fishing tournament.
“Everybody has to have a Rodeo T-shirt, and they have to bring one for their friends and family too,” said White, who has been volunteering with the Rodeo for 24 years. “One guy even bought one for his mailman.”
This year, the Rodeo unveiled five T-shirt designs in multiple different colors. The 2017 design is a retro theme with palm trees and a sun, while classics such as the stamp logo and the fish designs continue to be best-sellers.
White said the bright-colored shirts have sold the fastest this year, and the new retro design seems to be the most popular.
“People just can’t get enough of that design,” White said. “Sometimes we really hit the nail on the head with these shirts, and this year we did.”
White said the cancellation of the Destin Seafood Festival due to Hurricane Nate, and the subsequent two-day hiatus of the Rodeo for the same reason, slowed sales just a little bit, but they have picked right back up. In fact, kids’ T-shirts have already sold out.
Bruce Cheves, the rodeo weighmaster, said he can’t even count how many T-shirts he has accumulated over the years, but he knows it’s somewhere around “a lot.”
“It’s like anything else,” he said. “You go to a motorcycle rally or a concert or something and you’re a part of the event, you get a T-shirt. This just gives you the chance to do that year after year.”