COVID-19 forces cancellation of Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo for 2020

Mississippi’s Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo has been cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo by Bobby Cleveland)

What two of the worst hurricanes — Camille in 1969 and Katrina in 2005 — and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill couldn’t do the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic have done: forced the  cancellation of the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo scheduled for July 2-5. 

For 72 years, it had endured without fail, but that ends in 2020 as it becomes another victim of COVID-19.

If there is to be a 73rd annual Rodeo, it will have to be in 2021 at the earliest. Insuring that can happen is why the Rodeo’s organizers pulled the plug this summer.

Richard Valdez, the Rodeo’s president, said there was little choice — cancel this year or see the popular event die forever.

Social-distancing requirements from both the Mississippi governor’s office and the federal Center for Disease Control related to the pandemic made it impossible to hold an event that depends on one year’s funding to pay for the next.

 “It was just going to be too much of a gamble if we spent the money and we were only allowed 100 to 200 people,” Valdez said in an interview with WLOX-TV. “The rodeo would fold, and that would be the end of the rodeo. 

“We decided to hold the money until next year. Hopefully, things are back to normal, and we can go forward from there.”

Looking ahead to the future

Valdez said that the non-profit Rodeo, staged every year for the past 72 years over the Independence Day holiday to promote the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s fishing industry, depends on gate revenue to exist. The event typically draws more than 50,000 people to the carnival-like atmosphere and giant fireworks show.

“We go broke this year, we’d never be back,” he said, adding that it had nothing to do with local, city or state entities but was simply a decision on what was best for the long-term viability of the Rodeo.

Money for the 2020 event will roll over into 2021 to, as Valdez said, to “help us come back bigger and better than ever.”

About Bobby Cleveland 1350 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.

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