Strong start to Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo

GRAND ISLE, LA (WVUE) - It was a late start for fishermen at the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo this year, but as soon as the sky cleared - they were out in force.

"A lot of people bring a lot of different things to the table when it comes to their locations and where they fish," said Jay Lassere. "I'm a homegrown boy myself, so I should have an advantage but it hasn't worked out for me lately."

But it didn't take long for people to reel in winners.

Tarpon Rodeo weekend is one of the busiest for Grand Isle. More than 15,000 people will come through in the next three days.

"For the island itself, it's second only to Fourth of July as far as economic impact," said Tommy Ory, an event organizer.

"We have a lot of cultures. We draw people from all over, from the western part, to northern part, as well as out-of-towners," said Laserre. "It's a tradition, the island fills up and comes to life. Nothing like it."

Organizers say it's the oldest rodeo in the country. Thousands will pack the pavilion to enjoy music, food, and vendors. It's why vendor Jason Kiffe set up here.

"Over the years it's been getting bigger and bigger. What's nice about it is it's a fun, nice, family-oriented place. People can come an enjoy the comradery and enjoy some really big fish," said Kiffe, who recently started up Saltwater Sportsman Outfitters.

Thousands more will pack Grand Isle hotels, marinas, restaurants and stores. Sureway Supermarket says they see an extra 5,000 to 6,000 customers during the rodeo.

"Even if the weather is bad. They still come enjoy it," said Shelly Jambon with the grocery store.  A lot of these people have been, here have watched me grow up in the grocery store."

That turnout is what businesses have come to depend on to get them through the fall and winter off-season.

"Groceries, hardware, alcohol. It's a party weekend when we can't fish," laughs Jambon. "We're hoping they get to fish."

The rodeo goes on until Saturday.

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