From the second they enter the gates, visitors to the United Way of St. Charles’ Battle for the Paddle will be enticed by 104 groups to try special jambalaya and gumbo recipes.
With a cost of only $5 a person, the event is more than a bargain for culinary connoisseurs.
This year’s battle will kick off at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3 and will be held at the West Bank Bridge Park in Luling. The event has grown drastically in recent years as more teams sign up and more patrons visit to get their fill of the delicious cuisine.
Last year, a record 102 teams signed up to cook jambalaya and gumbo. This year, 104 teams have already signed up even though the deadline to enter is a few days away. In five years, the number of visitors is expected to double from 1,600 in 2008 to more than 3,000 this year.
Tamara Plattsmier, an administrative assistant for the United Way of St. Charles, said the unique family atmosphere has increased both attendance and the number of competing teams.
"I think it’s a great family fun event," she said. "We have a lot of local industry, small businesses and mom and pop groups that register to participate. That means that more people want to come out and eat the food."
Older patrons pay only $5 to eat as much as they like, while those 10 and under get into the event for free.
The event is meant to raise awareness about the services the United Way offers to the community.
"It’s a fun way to support the community and raise awareness about our campaign," Plattsmier said. "It supports agencies throughout the parish that deal with health, income and education. We also create programs in areas dealing with health education."
Along with jambalaya and gumbo, which will be judged by both the public and a panel comprised of local leaders, soft drinks and beer will be served during the event.
At 11 a.m., the contestants begin cooking, and at 3 p.m. residents get their first chance to enter the event. The Battle for the Paddle closes at 7:30 p.m.