GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) –
Attendance at this year’s Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo was very poor. Bad weather, and the fact that the Fourth of July is in the middle of the week made for a bad combination.
“The rodeo has taken about a $60,000 loss and that’s mighty hard to come back from,” said rodeo president Richard Valdez. “Today, we have to make that up through the gate and beer and Coke sales to be able to survive another year.”
Valdez said the rodeo had to close down early and often because of the storms.
“The crowds would start coming in and the rain would come in on top of us,” he said. “Lightning, storming here shut our midway down, shut our entertainment stage down.”
Valdez said the rodeo organization is going to need some help to keep the 71-year-old event going.
“The rodeo has survived a lot. Hopefully, we can survive this. We just need a lot of support from our city and county if they want to continue it,” he said. “The rodeo brings in a lot of tourism dollars in and maybe we need to try to get some of those tourism dollars down here. As of right now, we’re getting none.”
There are 40 vendors from five different states, while many are down in profits, some were prepared.
“I had already downsized my forecast based on the way the holiday falls,” said vendor Michael Colborn. “But the last two days have been a lot stronger than I anticipated, even with the rain. So, I’m in the black now and today is the icing on the cake.”
Jason Kiffe’s business was slower than normal, but he knows how important this rodeo is.
“The Deep Sea Rodeo is always a good event,” Kiffe said. “Good for family. Good for friends and fellowship. You get to see some great fish and you get to hear some good fishing stories.”
Wesley Simms of Ocean Springs is among the thousands who come nearly every year.
“I think it’s good for the economy and I think they should bring it back,” he said. “A lot of people look forward to this and I think it’s a real good thing.”
Valdez said there will be a meeting Thursday with the rodeo board of directors, and he’ll know better then what the future holds for the tournament.
Officials say the rodeo is down about $60,000 after bad weather shut down operations often and early. (Photo source: WLOX)
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