You can’t keep a good fish down; rescheduled Flora-Bama Mullet Toss set for Oct. 23-25
By Fran Thompson
With COVID-19 related restrictions lifted in Florida, the famed Flora-Bama Lounge has decided the time is right to take back what the coronavirus took away in April – The Interstate Mullet Toss.
There will be a few changes, most notably, no cover charge until 6 p.m, but this year’s event will be held Oct. 23-25 on the beach behind the famed lounge on the Alabama – Florida state line.
This is a family friendly event. But parking is very limited and there is no bus shuttle this year. Uber, Lyft or a local cab may be the best option for attendees.
Free masks will be available to all who attend, but face coverings will not be mandatory.
The cost for tossing a mullet into Alabama from Florida is $15, and that includes a t-shirt. The kids’ 14 & under toss is at 10 a.m. Adults toss from noon – 4 p.m. Flora-Bama owners Joe Gilchrist, Pat McClellan, John McInnis and Cam Price along with local celebrities toss at 4 p.m., and winners will be announced at 4:30 p.m. each day. Awards are presented to: Top Adult Male, Top Adult Female, Top Kid Male & Top Female Kid.
The Miss Mullet Toss Bikini Contest is also a go for this year starting at 3 p.m. in the ‘Bama tent. Registration starts at 1 p.m.
“This will be the most memorable Mullet Toss yet and we can’t wait to see everyone soon at the Gulf Coast’s Greatest Beach Party,’’ said ‘Bama Marketing Director Jenifer Parnell.
Usually held the last full weekend in April, the Toss attracts tens of thousands of folks from throughout the nation & all walks of life.
Of course, the iconic roadhouse is an attraction, as are the world’s most beautiful beaches, but over the past 35 years, the toss has grown to include everything from a delayed spring break for collegians to family reunions. It is the place where you know you are going to run into the friend you have not seen since the last toss. And the music is constant and spectacular from more than 50 acts on four stages throughout the complex. (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 be open and feature oysters, shrimp and Bama Burgers on the menu.
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.
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.
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.
“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 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.’’
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.
The first Mullet Toss was a small affair, held on a July 4th weekend in 1985. National news coverage the late great Hall of Fame quarterback Kenny Stabler, a Foley High grad and local resident, throwing the fish in 1988 gave the event some national cred. But the main attraction is the location. It is always a good idea to spend time at the Flora-Bama.
“It’s not the college kids who haven’t grown up yet like spring break. It’s the people who really want to be here. That’s why we’re able to have so many people gather here without all those issues,’’McClellan said.
A few things that are good to know when attending The Toss
• It is a cash only weekend (plenty of ATMs onsite), and the Miss Mullet Toss Bikini Contest will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24. Sign ups will being at 1 p.m.
and contest will begin at 3pm.
• There is no cover and the toss is family friendly until 6 p.m. Cover charges begin at 6 p.m. After that, the cover is $5 for 21, $15 for 18 – 20 year olds and up, and free for membership card holders.
• Chairs around the Mullet Toss will be free and there will be areas blocked off for standing room.
• Personal beach chairs are allowed on all properties.
• No coolers or outside alcohol can be brought onto the property. The Flora-Bama will sell beer in small coolers on the beach for customers and bars will be set up on the beach for other beverages.
• There will be no tents set up or for rent on Phoenix X or Mediterranean beaches. The entire Mullet Toss footprint will be on Flora-Bama beach property.
• No amplified music is allowed. No large speakers or DJ’s. Flora-Bama will be providing live music all weekend!
• Tossing of the mullet is from noon to 4 p.m. each day. Children have their own toss at 10 a.m. and winners are announced at 4:30 p.m.