Beachcomber contributing writer Samantha Lambert sat down recently for a chat with Cayce Collins, who is the executive director for this year’s Destin Seafood Festival.
Tell us about yourself—your background, family, etc.
My family moved to Destin in 1982. I graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 1998 and from Florida State in 2002, where I earned a marketing degree. After college, I moved to Colorado for an internship with a nonprofit event company and came back here in 2004. I worked in radio sales and marketing and ran the Emerald Coast Poker Run for two years. I met my husband Dan, and we have four children.
How did you become involved with the Destin Seafood Festival?
I had been a vendor at the festival 10 years ago with children’s clothes that I sewed. I also had a successful swimwear line. My husband works at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar on the harbor and heard that the Destin Seafood Festival needed a director. The Destin Seafood Festival is run by the Destin Charter Boat Association. Captain Jim Green, the president of the DCBA, contacted me in the spring of this year.
What is the history of the Destin Seafood Festival?
The Destin Seafood Festival was started in 1978 by the Destin Charter Boat Association Women’s Auxiliary. The wives of the charter boat captains started it “up on the hill” where Margaritaville is now located. They held a fish fry, which was a fundraiser for the DCBA. The festival moved many times and eventually ended up back on the harbor.
Tell us about this year’s event.
This year’s festival takes place Oct. 4-6 on the Destin Harbor. Times are 4 to 10 PM on Friday, 10 to 10 on Saturday, and 10 to 4 on Sunday. There will be both local and regional food vendors and crafters from all over the U.S. There will be hand-rolled cigars, fantastic jewelry, sign art, and crustacean taxidermy. This year’s poster commemorating the festival is fantastic!
What have been the biggest responsibilities in chairing this year’s festival?
The level of detail. Making sure there is adequate power for the vendors and vendor relations.
Who has been a mentor to you while working on the Destin Seafood Festival?
Captain Jim Green has been so encouraging and supportive. He is a steward of his community and is extremely familiar with putting on big events. Captain Green is very hands-on and focuses on how the community consumes the event. He has been involved with the festival for eight years.
What about those people who have been invaluable in putting on the Destin Seafood Festival?
Captain Green of course. Mike Eller, the past president of the Destin Charter Boat Association, has been so helpful. All of the properties involved in the festival have been wonderful, especially Dewey Destin’s, Brotula’s, Destin Fishing Fleet Marina, the East Pass Marina, the Boathouse, and AJ’s.
What is your favorite part about chairing the festival? Least favorite?
My favorite part is talking to the vendors and hearing their stories. My least favorite part is all the little last minute details and lack of sleep. (laughs)
What advice would you give to someone who wants to chair a big event like this?
Make sure you have a wonderful supportive team to work with.
What do you do the rest of the year?
I exercise frequently—in fact, I do small group training. I love sewing and make great Halloween costumes for my kids. Of course, spending time with family.
What was the worst job you ever had?
Working in retail at about $4.30 an hour. Long hours!
What is a lesson that you have learned in working with the Destin Seafood Festival?
I have been a lifelong procrastinator. Working with the festival has helped solve those tendencies.
What does the future hold for Cayce Collins?
I hope to continue working with the Destin Seafood Festival for several more years. I really enjoy the excitement and anticipation in planning this event.