Fishing rodeo leaders expecting "banner year" in Biloxi

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) -  It's been a summertime tradition for well over half a century on the coast.

The 61st annual Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo kicks off tomorrow at Point Cadet Plaza in Biloxi.

Last minute preparations were in full gear Wednesday morning.

Fishing fever is about to strike Point Cadet Plaza.

"The way the weather patterns are going, we're hoping for a banner year," said weighmaster Mark Wright.

The last minute scramble is on.  Workers and volunteers are getting everything ready for this 61st annual rodeo.

After a post-Katrina stay at the fairgrounds, this is the second year the rodeo home is in Biloxi.

"We had to get back to saltwater, 'cause that's what the rodeo was founded on. And now that we're here, we're in close proximity to multiple boat ramps. Five within like a two mile radius of here. Bait shops. Everything a fisherman needs is right down here," said Wright.

Everything a fishing rodeo fan needs will be ready. Concession stands are preparing to feed the crowds.

"Chicken on a stick, corn dogs, loaded fries, blooming onion, funnel cakes, shrimp on a stick, catfish plates, jambalaya," said Matt Butc, listing the variety of foods available at his booth.

After downing some cold lemonade, rodeo fans will be thankful for what Shawn Petro provides the event.

"Twenty portable restrooms and two handicaps and five hand washing stations," said Petro, as he lined up the portable toilets.

Plenty of big fans beneath the big top tent will help rodeo visitors escape the heat.

"As long as we don't get a rain, we'll be okay. Hot, they will still come," said Chuck Dedeaux, a longtime fishing rodeo board member.

The focal point of the rodeo is a large, wooden box. Nearly 50 feet long, it's the fish bin, where the catch of the day is laid out on ice for rodeo spectators to admire.

"And we do everything we can to make that what the crowd wants to see. And to come back for every day," said Wright.

The admission fee for spectators is five dollars a person.  There is no charge for fishermen who'd like to enter the rodeo.

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