Tim Croft |The Star
Gumbo time arrives at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday in Mexico Beach.
The 15th annual Mexico Beach Gumbo Cook-off will take place Saturday at Sunset Park with plenty of gumbo and Brunswick stew for the tasting, purchasing and just plain savoring.
“We have 23 teams signed up and I am hoping to wrangle some new ones before Saturday,” said Kimberly Shoaf, executive director of the Mexico Beach Community Development Corporation. “We have seven new entrants and that is very exciting. I love the new entries.”
In addition to the gumbo, the subject of intense judging for the top three finishers, there will be plenty of Brunswick stew, so good it has a category of awards all its own.
In addition, Shoaf said, there will barbecue sandwiches, sausage sandwiches and hot dogs for sale as well as beer and wine to wet the whistle.
The event organizers sell tickets for the feasts and refreshers.
One dollar buys one ticket, good enough for a taster’s cup of any gumbo or stew. Four tickets provide enough for a small eating cup and eight tickets a large bowl of the gumbo or stew of your choice.
The entertainment will be provided by Rockin’ Randall, a locally known musician, accompanied by everyone’s favorite saxophonist Art Long.
“It is going to be crazy,” Shoaf said of the Cook-Off. “It is going to be fun.”
The Gumbo Cook-Off is offered with a splash of Mardi Gras. Beads of many colors adorn the booths and those cooking are encouraged to get in the spirit of New Orleans at the height of Mardi Gras.
“We have tons of beads to give away,” Shoaf said. “We have people who really embrace Mardi Gras and that is always fun.”
The Gumbo Cook-Off is, along with fall’s Art and Wine Festival, the largest fundraiser of the year for the Mexico Beach Special Events Committee.
Net proceeds from the two events help fund the city’s Fourth of July Fireworks each year.
The Gumbo Cook-Off has more than secured its share of the fireworks haul.
“When we started out the event couldn’t even fill the grass area at Sunset Park and there were six entrants and three of those were people on the Special Events committee just out cooking,” Shoaf said. “As it has grown the fireworks have grown.”
This year, the Gumbo Cook-Off is being held on the same weekend as the SEA Art Walk in Mexico Beach (see related article this page.)
The SEA Art walk will have a number of local artists featuring their work up and down U.S. Highway 98. That event starts at noon and Shoaf said folks could have some gumbo and beer at Sunset Park, walk down the highway and view the art and come back for more stomach-filling goodies.
“They are really complimentary events,” Shoaf said. “They enhance our event and we enhance theirs. It will be a fun day to be in Mexico Beach.”