For the first time since the Florida Seafood Festival was inaugurated 54 years ago, a brother and sister duo will reign over the festivities.
The festival board this month gave its blessing to a recommendation from 2017 Miss Florida Seafood Brooke Martina to have her older brother, Brett, serve as King Retsyo.
And so, when the festival rolls around Nov. 3-5, Brett will have to set aside his charter fishing business and join his younger sister, the children of Lance and Paula Martina, in making this year’s festival the best ever.
“It’s an honor, there’s not many of these, there’s only been 54 of them,” said Brett. “It’s something that goes down in the history of Apalachicola. It’ll be an outstanding time.”
A 2005 graduate of Apalachicola High School, where he excelled on the baseball diamond, Brett, 30, is 13 years older than his younger sister, and said he was delighted to have been her choice.
“She’s my little sister, I love her to death. I’d do anything for her. If it makes her happy, it makes me happy,” he said. “She’s always in a good mood, always caring and in a good mood.”
One aspect of the queen’s choice that surely delighted the festival board is that the new King Retsyo is a product of the coastal community who works squarely on the water, in the charter fishing industry that has increasingly succeeded the seafood industry.
Brett’s dad at one time shrimped, and oystered and mullet fished, and his uncle Greg and his wife Lynn have long owned an oyster house in Eastpoint.
But Brett these days works as an inshore fishing guide, fly fishing and light tackle, a good 200 days a year, including about four months straight, from May to August, during tarpon season.
Brett was raised on the water, from his earliest memories through adulthood.
“Every day after baseball practice we went fishing,” he said. “I grew up fishing as a kid on the docks, and then got my first boat and I haven’t looked back ever since.”
That first boat was at age 10, a 1966 Kennedy Kraft, an old river boat with a 20-horsepower Mercury engine.
Like so many others in the commercial and recreational fishing industry, Brett is not without his fears that Apalachicola Bay may suffer from a multitude of stressors that beset it.
“I’m concerned about the overall wellbeing of the bay,” he said. “That’s what everyone should be concerned about who lives in Apalachicola.”
Putting such subjects as “water wars” and stormwater runoff aside for the time being, Brett said he’s looking forward to the sort of festival he used to cherish as a little boy.
In fact, when he was just 3, he began a two-year reign as Prince Spat, a sort of “beautiful baby” contest that lasted a couple years, in 1990 and 1991, before it was abandoned.
“ You look forward to it as a kid, that was the big event of Apalachicola,” Brett said. “Dr. Pepper airplanes on a stick, made out of Dr. Pepper cans. I do remember as a kid that was my favorite thing to get.”