Fish will fly from the ‘Bama April 26-28
By Fran Thompson
Flora-Bama’s April 26-28 Mullet Toss weekend – officially The Interstate Mullet Toss & Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party – starts with the sold out Mullet Swing Golf Classic at Perdido Bay Golf Club on April 24 and continues through the weekend.
The Mullet Toss kick-off party is Thursday with a special engagement by “Big Earl” and a BBQ at the Yacht Club (across from the Flora-Bama on Ole River) from 5-9 pm.
Adult fish tossing on the ‘Bama beach is from noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday, with the kids’ toss at 10 a.m. each day. Finals start each day at 4 p.m. The $15 per toss fee includes a t-shirt. Proceeds go to local charities.
Cover charge to Flora-Bama begins at 9 a.m. each day from Friday through Sunday. Entry is $10 per day for 21 and up and $15 for 13-20 year olds, with 12 & under admitted free. The party is open to all ages until 6 p.m., at which point the vent is for those 21 and up.
Membership cards are good for entry to Flora-Bama for Mullet Toss. Cards are available online or at the door for $45 and are good for the entire event. The bar will be cash only for bar sales on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with plenty of ATM’s available.
Tens of thousands of folks from throughout the nation & all walks of life will descend upon the crystal white sands of the iconic roadhouse for the three day frenzy of food, fun and frivolity.
Originally conceived as an absurd and fun way to attract tourism dollars during the shoulder season, the 3k-day event is now one of the busiest weekends of the year, contributing over $10 million to the local economy while raising funds for local youth charities, including school education and prevention programs from the Community Drug & Alcohol Council. Each year, the event contributes over $30,000 to local charities, especially youth organizations on both sides of the state line.
The main event consists of folks throwing a mullet, a mystical fish possessing a gizzard & one of the more plentiful and popular local fish, out of a 10-foot circle, from Perdido Key, Florida towards Orange Beach, Alabama.
Overall winners earn bragging rights, trophies, and gift certificates to local establishments. Trophies will be awarded 3-deep in 19 total age categories, male & female, for each day of toss.
The Miss Mullet bikini contest will be held under the Tent Stage at 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and offer over $2,000 in cash and prizes each day. The top three finalists both days will qualify for the Grand Miss Flora-Bama Contest and a chance to win $5,000 Labor Day weekend.
A male hot body contest will be held just prior to the bikini contest each day at 1 p.m.
Since this is the Flora-Bama, patrons will not have to venture far to hear music. More than 50 acts will share five stages.
Performers booked for the weekend include Electric Dawg, Jerry Jacobs Band, Magic Johnsons, Red Clay Strays, Oliver’s Twist, Lucky Doggs, Hung Jury, River Dan Band, Whiskey River Band, Ben Jernigan Duo, Albert Simpson & John Kulinich, Perdido Brothers, Bruce Smelley, Jo Jo Pres, Wes Loper, the Famous Nameless and Dueling Pianos (See full music schedule on pages 32-33).
The four Flora-Bama eateries on campus – the Flora-Bama Yacht Club, the Flora-Bama Ole River Grill, The Tipsy Taco and the original Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar – will feature oysters, shrimp, oysters and Bama Burgers. The guys from the Mudbug Mafia will be serving crawfish all weekend.
Flora-Bama parking lots will be manned by local charities and youth sport groups. Due to heavy congestion, it is recommended that patrons take shuttles, which will be running at $5 per head non-stop starting 7 a.m. Friday through Sunday. Pick up spots are the Publix parking lot in Orange Beach and the Winn-Dixie lot in Perdido Key. You can also call a taxi or Uber or Lyft.
There actually are rules for flinging mullets. Contestants must select a mullet from the water bucket themselves. No gloves, no sand coating and no loading up a mullet with ballast before flinging allowed.
All competitors must retrieve their own fish and return it to the water bucket. Stepping out of the circle before tossing or tossing the fish out of bounds are other no-nos. Tossers have only one chance to qualify for the finals each day. Those who can manage to throw more than 100 ft. have a good chance of placing.
Tossing techniques are as varied as the contestants themselves. For most, the best strategy is to fold the fish and pretend like you are trying to gun down a runner at the plate from center field.
Longtime competitor Wes Durham said at a past Toss that he likes to give his fish a pre-flight sip of beer. “Food for flight,’’ he called it.
Many Mullet Toss patrons will make condo and hotel reservations for 2020 while in town this year.
“They could come here on July 4th or Memorial Day or Labor Day. But they decide that something we created was going to be their weekend to have a party, and they come back every year,’’ said Flora-Bama co-owner Pat McClellan.
“It’s a tradition for a lot of people, and they respect that tradition and respect each other.
“We have less problems with crowds at the Mullet Toss than during the major holiday weekends,’’ he added.
The Interstate Mullet Toss has been written up in the Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other major newspapers around the country. The event was also featured in Sports Illustrated.
For more info, visit florabama.com or facebook.