The biggest event on the Mexico Beach calendar

Over the course of two decades, gumbo, in all its various forms and sprinkled with a dash of Brunswick stew, has become something of a signature concoction in Mexico Beach.

That will be the case Saturday when the 20th edition of the Mexico Beach Gumbo Cook-off simmers in Parker Park.

While the gumbo will be cooking for hours, those 20 chefs take their time, the public won’t be able to get a taste until 10 a.m. CT and the eating is good until the gumbo is gone.

The event is sponsored by Special Events for Mexico Beach, Inc., with all proceeds go toward the city’s Fourth of July fireworks.

And it has unquestioned status as one of true signature events in the Mexico Beach calendar.

“This is the biggest event in Mexico Beach,” said Kimberly Shoaf, executive director of the Mexico Beach Community Development Council. “There are other events that growing and that is great, but the cook-off tops them all.”

The event is also about much more than gumbo.

In addition to competition for the best gumbo, there is a parallel contest for the best-tasting Brunswick stew.

Live music will play throughout the day and beer and wine are available for purchase.

In addition, before, during and after the gumbo is being put away, hot dogs and sausage dogs off the grill will be available along with a host of desserts.

Commemorative t-shirts will be for sale.

But the central focus is the gumbo and bragging rights among amateurs and local restaurants for the best, tastiest batch.

“People really come from all over for this, not only to cook but also just to enjoy the event,” Shoaf said. “We have really captivated this audience.

“And the gumbo is going to go fast. It just one of those things, visitors and locals really turn out and support this event.”

That support is reflected in the Independence Day fireworks, a gala that is budgeted at $20,000, making it the largest along the Forgotten Coast.

“The Cook-off not only supports the fireworks show, but all the other events that day, like the 5K fun/run,” Shoaf said. “The real story is the volunteers.

“The farmers market, the Art and Wine festival, the Cook-off, they are all signature events and they are all run by volunteers. The people do the work … making sure it is a success.”

Folks may purchase gumbo by the cup or bowl while the gumbo lasts.