Fishing Rodeo Budget Battle Continues

The Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is used to battling surprises from Mother Nature. Weather is often unpredictable over the Fourth of July weekend.

But the latest storm facing the popular event is a budget battle.

A cost cutting decision to drop the annual fireworks display is prompting questions about fishing rodeo finances.

"Promoting the coast and the fishing end of it," said Chuck Dedeauxm, when asked about the importance of the annual rodeo.

The longtime fishing rodeo president is comfortable sitting on the porch of his family's furniture factory, discussing finances. He says dropping the fireworks show will save the group about 15 thousand dollars.

"We're going to change our ways. That's why we're changing what we're doing right now. The coming year we're going to cut back. Spend less," he said.

His appearance before the city council Tuesday wasn't as comfortable as the front porch.

Ricky Dombrowski raised specific questions about the rodeo budget.

"When you guys have kick off parties, you're not cutting that budget. You have Christmas parties, you're not cutting that budget. When you spend 39 hundred dollars for a phone bill. All this is in your packet. I don't get it. For a ten day event," the councilman said.

Dombrowski suggested dropping the fireworks was a response to the city's plan to charge the group rent at the Rice Pavilion. Dedeaux says while paying rent may be new, the rodeo has contributed plenty. Rice Pavilion is named for former fishing rodeo director, Bob Rice.

"The rodeo did furnish and put up and erect the back portion of the Rice Pavilion. Then after that we came back and built the office. The little office building in front, with some rest rooms in there," Dedeaux said.

This isn't the first time leaders of the fishing rodeo have faced concerns about finances. Some eight years ago, they decided to start charging admission for the first time. Like dropping the fireworks this year, charging admission is not something the leadership wanted to do, but budget concerns demanded it.

Despite money worries, the rodeo president says the popular event will survive.

"We are going to be around," Chuck Dedeaux promises.

The rodeo has lost money the past three years. Dedeaux says the group would be willing to contribute something toward a fireworks show, it just can't afford the entire cost.

City leaders are looking for private companies or individuals to help pay for the display.