1,500 visit booths, sample gumbo
Published 12:03 am Sunday, February 8, 2015
Under the tree-shaded south side of Crawford Street and across the street from the site of the political rally from the movie “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou,” cauldrons boiled and bubbled, sending the aroma of sausage, chicken, duck, seafood and other delicious scents over and through the throng of people waiting in line for their first taste of the cooks’ art.
The Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation’s fourth annual Carnaval de Mardi Gras and Gumbo Cook-off at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center drew an estimated 1,500 people who queued up at tents and booths bearing the names, “Quack Attack,” “Em Cluckers,” “Mud Bugs,” “Redwood Rednecks,” “Nobie’s” and “Gumbones Hedz” for a taste of the dish that is part of the Gulf South’s culture as Cajun, New Orleans brass band and zydeco music floated out through several speaker systems.
“It’s been so exciting to see the people come in and enjoy the gumbo,” foundation executive director Nancy Bell said. “We had 15 cooks participating. Everyone is happy, and the weather has been beautiful.”
Warmer weather with the high temperature in the mid-60s and clear skies cooling to 60 helped the mood of the event.
“This is wonderful; a great turnout,” Ali Hopson said between spoonsful of gumbo. “This is a great opportunity for the community to come out and enjoy themselves and have a good time.”
Hopson was on her first cup of gumbo. “I’m slowly making my way down the street, one at a time,” she said.
Alissa Miller, who was still dressed in the costume she wore on a float in the earlier Mardi Gras parade, pronounced the gumbo “great. We need more things like this in the community.”
Keily McKellar, who was handling two cups of gumbo — one for a friend — agreed.
“This is wonderful. They need to come up with more things like this for the community to get people out,” she said. “I’m having a wonderful time.”
Chicken and sausage gumbo, with a few variations, dominated the competition, with only three booths, Riverwalk Casino’s Rocky’s, Roux Dawgs and May & Company, serving the more traditional seafood gumbo. Roux Crew’s offering included shrimp, crab and oysters.
One booth, Quack Attack, operated by Jeff Richardson and Ty Wamsley, offered duck andouille sausage gumbo to the sounds of zydeco music.
“These are ducks shot right here in the Mississippi Delta,” Wamsley said.
“Ty did all the hunting,” Richardson, the cook, said.
Mud Bugs offered another variation on the chicken and sausage recipe with a turducken gumbo featuring chicken, duck and turkey meat and gumbo.
Roux Dawgs took first place in the seafood gumbo category, winning $200 and a free entry for next year’s competition. May & Company finished second, with Riverwalk Casino placing third. In the non-seafood gumbo category, Nobie’s took first place and the $200 prize and free entry for the 2016 competition, Redwood Rednecks finished second, while J. Daddy Parms was third. Nobie’s also had the best booth display. The Creek Krewe received the people’s choice award.