This weekend is the one time of the year when literally hundreds of St. Charles Parish residents migrate south. They travel in groups to the small coastal town of Grand Isle and my family is no exception. This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will be the Grand Isle International Tarpon Rodeo and not even the scorching heat and two devastating hurricanes can keep them away.
Over the past few weeks, work crews have been hard at work sprucing up the island for an onslaught of fun seekers. The event attracts people from all over the world as they participate in this premiere fishing competition. With fertile waters and an endless number of manmade and natural reefs on which scores of marine life thrive, Grand Isle is a favorite for anglers.
Despite the fact that Grand Isle is a two-hour drive from our parish, this event just wouldn’t be as successful if St. Charles Parish were not visibly present. All around, local residents seem to make up a large portion of the island. In fact, St. Charles Parish’s very own, Sheriff Greg Champagne, will preside over this event as association president.
For decades now, I have been totally amazed of how many local residents participate in this event. I would travel the 100 mile trek to the island only to run into people who live just a couple of blocks from my house. People that due to the fast pace world we live and work, I’d seldom see back home.
For many local residents, this event is as important to them as the Alligator and Catfish Festivals. Just as it is in my family, it has become a local tradition of sorts. An event we look forward to and plan for several months in advance.
I can remember as a young boy making that trip year after year. I was amazed to see those strange, enormous fish that certainly don’t swim around any boat I’ve ever fished out of. Despite pungent odors that accompanied the weigh-in scales, I looked forward as a kid watching the boats return at the end of the day with their catch. Those strange looking fish stirred my curiosity. Now, as an adult, nothing has changed. I still enjoy seeing the unusual catches, a now share with my own kids.
So you say your not into fishing, not a problem. You don’t have to be to enjoy all that Grand Isle has to offer. Over the years, besides being one of the top fishing events, the rodeo has evolved into a festival of sorts. There will be arts and crafts, great food, merchandise, and live entertainment. You could literally take the fishing element away from the rodeo and still have a premiere Louisiana event.
If you haven’t discovered for yourself why for this one weekend each year forty thousands plus people flock to that tinny island on the Louisiana coast which is inhabited by only a couple thousand residents year around, here is your big chance. It’s not too late, pack up a fishing rod, picnic lunch and beach towel and head south. The two-hour scenic drive is well worth it.