For the first time ever, the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo will launch a kayak division in 2019.
The country’s oldest saltwater fishing tournament will attract fishing enthusiasts and families to the coastal town on Thursday, July 25 to Saturday, July 27 at the Sand Dollar Marina and Tarpon Rodeo Pavilion.
Event coordinator Heather Martin said board members pushed for launching the new kayak division for the 91st annual event. The kayak division will feature three fish categories: Speckled Trout, Redfish and Redfish Stringer.
Here’s another big change this year: Organizers are removing Tuna from the big game catch and release division.
The annual South Louisiana tradition brings a three-day party to Grand Isle and combines an intense fishing competition with a family-friendly festival. Anglers can battle for bragging rights in more than 30 categories at the rodeo.
The 2019 rodeo president Jim Henderson told FOX 8 Morning Edition he loves the fishing culture and has attended the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo for four decades.
“I am so excited to serve as this year’s Tarpon Rodeo president. For the first time there will be a kayak division to acknowledge and reward that growing segment of fishermen and women doing what is ecologically and physically positive. For all of us who are addicted to this wonderful family sport, the tug is the drug. Hope to personally meet and greet so many of you there,” Henderson said in a statement.
There are plenty of activities for families to enjoy at the pavilion, even if they’re not planning to fish. Activities open to the public starting each day at 11 a.m. It’s like a mini festival with lots of food, vendors and educational booths and entertainment.
Committee member and master of ceremonies Bob Breck points out the crab races as one must-see activity for families at the rodeo.
The children’s crab races are a popular event for kids at the rodeo. Martin said this year, all kids who participate will receive an official crab race shirt.
The crab races happen each day each day of the rodeo starting at 2 p.m. Registration for the event starts each day at 11 a.m. Kids catch their own crabs and bring them to the race. Then, kids are encouraged to “convince” their crab to race out of the circle first. Winners are awarded trophies and prizes.
Kids can also experience the sport of fishing by entering into the children’s rodeo category for prizes. The children’s scale opens each day at the marina from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We pride ourselves on that very much, just to get kids fishing and to just get them involved,” Martin said.
If you’re not into fishing, the rodeo has some great live entertainment each evening including a DJ and local band acts. Most notably, Rockin’ Dopsie, Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters perform at 7 p.m. on Friday, and the Wiseguys will close out the rodeo on Saturday with a performance starting at 6 p.m. These performances are open to the public.
When you register for the Tarpon Rodeo this year, you will automatically be entered for all the scheduled drawings, including the grand prize. One lucky grand prize winner will win a Blazer Bay boat and motor. You must register for the rodeo for a chance to win.
Fishing begins at daylight on Thursday, July 25. The rodeo pavilion opens at 11 a.m. each day with food, activities, music and more set for the entire weekend.
Scales close at the Sand Dollar Marina at 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and at 6 p.m. on Saturday, the last day of the event.
The rodeo awards ceremony starts at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, along with the grand prize drawing.
Created in partnership with the Grand Isle International Tarpon Rodeo