Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo moving to Long Beach
- Sun Herald
LONG BEACH -- The Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo will be held in Long Beach this year, officials announced Friday.
The rodeo’s board of directors discussed the idea Wednesday night, called city officials and had most of the details worked out by Friday morning.
“After a slow year with the BP oil spill, we needed a local site that had the infrastructure in place,” said Michael Casano, the fishing rodeo’s president. “Obviously, being on the water is where we need to be, and Long Beach is that spot for us this year.”
The rodeo will be at the pavilion Harrison County built near the Long Beach Harbor. City leaders said they welcome the chance to host the event.
“We always sought the opportunity to get it in our city,” Mayor Billy Skellie said. “With the changes in the harbor, we will be able to accommodate them.”
The fishing rodeo was started 63 years ago by the Jaycees and American Legion Post 119 in Gulfport and always was held the first week in July.
For the first 57 years, the rodeo was held in Jones Park. After Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged that location, the rodeo was held at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in 2006 and 2007.
In 2008 and 2009, Biloxi hosted the rodeo at Point Cadet.
Last year, the event was held on Island View Casino’s beachfront property and in its parking garage.
Casano said the board of directors found out two weeks ago from Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel the Island View location wouldn’t be available this year. The city is working in Jones Park, so that venue was out, too.
The city suggested other sites, including the downtown library building and the VA property, but “none of them were going to work for us,” Casano said. “The infrastructure wasn’t there.”
Casano said it is more expensive when the rodeo board has to bring in tents and generators; however, they will be using only one county tent and generator at this year’s event.
Someone suggested Long Beach at the rodeo’s board meeting Wednesday night. Casano said members liked the idea and he spoke to the Long Beach Port Commission on Thursday night.
Police Chief Wayne McDowell said officers can handle the extra traffic, so Friday, Casano was working on securing parking for the event, which draws thousands of people to the Coast.
“That’s the one logistical issue we’re working on,” he said, adding he is going to talk to the owner of the lot where Kmart had been before Katrina to see if people can park there.
“We don’t want to interfere with the restaurants or the yacht club,” Casano said.
Long Beach Alderman Gary Ponthieux said the city appreciates Supervisor Marlin Ladner allowing the rodeo to use the pavilion because the event will bring people to the city.
“I think it’s going to be a huge financial impact on the city,” he said. “We hope to draw people from Louisiana, Alabama and north Mississippi.”