Big crowds for Fishing Rodeo, small for restaurants

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The 63rd Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is making a splash in the Long Beach Harbor with crowds rushing in.

"Participation has been super. We haven't seen this kind of crowd probably since Katrina. Long Beach has been very good to the fishing rodeo," said Rodeo Director Richard Valdez.

City officials were hoping the rodeo would return the favor by bringing in customers to its restaurants.

"I was expecting wall to wall gang busters. I really was. We stocked up for it. We had extra staff on," said Harbor View Café General Manager Mike Warley.

"We scheduled some extra help in case we get a good turnout. We're willing to stay open, extend our business hours if business permits," said Cajun Crawfish Hut Manager Stephanie Habrelewicz.

However, the crowds pouring into the rodeo seem to be merely trickling into nearby restaurants like the Harbor View Café.

"It's not happening right now. I'm sure there's a number of factors. The heat, the seafood fest over in the Bay seems to be a big hit and the Fishing Rodeo," said Warley of their slow business. "I don't know, it hasn't seemed to produce what I expected."

At the newly opened Steve's Marina Restaurant in the Long Beach Harbor, it's a similar story.  Managers there say the rodeo set up makes it hard for folks to get to the eatery.

However, across the street at Cajun Crawfish Hut, they've had more luck.

"It's been pretty good. Pretty good. Little busier than usual," said Habrelewicz.

The Crawfish Hut is right in the path of the rodeo as people walk to and from parking. Managers say they are seeing a boost.

However, all of these managers say it is still very early in the holiday weekend. They are optimistic that the crowds will soon pick up.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.