Carnaval de Mardi Gras Gumbo Cook-Off draws 1,200, raises $15,000

Published 2:36 pm Monday, February 20, 2023

The sun was out, the breeze was cool and the aroma of fresh gumbo boiling in the pot covered the block of Crawford Street between Cherry and Adams streets.

For the first time in several years, Saturday’s Carnaval de Mardi Gras Gumbo Cook-Off was blessed with good weather and it brought with it diners who made the circuit of booths to sample the cooks’ recipes of chicken and sausage or seafood gumbo.

“It was a great night,” said Nancy Bell, executive director of the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation. “Good food and fun had by all. We had 1,200 people attend and cleared $15,000, which is great.”

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The crowds began assembling for the cook-off early. While most people were watching the Mardi Gras parade on Washington Street, others were walking on Crawford Street visiting the different booths and talking with the cooks and their assistants.

Inside the Southern Cultural Center Auditorium, judges Austin Nelson, Mike Nelson, Stephanie Parker, Matthew Campbell and Corey Jones sampled various recipes to determine the top cooks.

At some booths, cooks were giving their concoctions one more stir in anticipation of the diners and dreaming of taking first place in their category.

At Rouxlin on the River, Thad Pratt was thinking big.

“I want all four awards,” he said as he watched over pots of seafood and chicken and sausage gumbo.

He said he was planning to get first place in the seafood and chicken and sausage gumbo categories, first for best-decorated booth and people’s choice.

Pratt said he’s participated in the cook-off for 10 years.

“We’ve won several times and placed several times,” he said. “This time, we’re going all out. We’re a team and I’ve got it organized.”

At the Roux Krewe, Kevin Mahoney was feeling pretty good about his chances of another winning seafood gumbo recipe.

“I think we’ve got a winner,” he said. “I started here 14 years ago and won that year. I won last year. We’re the defending champion in seafood.

Not far from the Roux Krewe, Capt. Marty Rinehart was back for a second year as Golding Barge’s cook, while Dusty McCain was checking out his chicken and sausage gumbo at the Squealin’ Pig booth, which was a simple covered area.

“We don’t go out for decoration; we go out for the food,” he said, adding he’s won three first-place awards for his work.

He said he has worked with other cooks during the cook-off.

“We all cook together. We have fun and help each other out.”

Cook-off winners are:

* SR 71, first

* The Sqealin Pig, second

* Golding Barge Line, third

* Palmer’s, first

* Riverwalk Casino Hotel, second

* Rusty’s Riverfront Grill, third

People’s choice:

* Krewe de Gumbo

Angels Award:
* Riverwalk Casino Hotel

City vs. County:


Best Decorated:

Roux Krewe

Most Spirited:

Golding Barge Lines

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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