United Way of St. Charles’ Battle for the Paddle may draw record crowd

Oct. 1 competition to serve up winners, jambalaya, gumbo

Expected to draw more than 8,000 people, the 14th annual Battle for the Paddle Cook-off will again serve up a tasty competition with more than 100 teams vying as United Way of St. Charles’ gumbo and jambalaya champions.

The local cook-off is open to the public from  3 p.m.–7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1 at the West Bank Bridge Park in Luling.

The formula for this family-friendly event is simple.“Five dollars for all-you-can-eat jambalaya and gumbo cooked by some of the best chefs in South Louisiana is hard to beat,” said United Way spokeswoman Melissa Manning Frederick.

Each four-member team represents a St. Charles Parish business or industry.

Judges will pick their winning entries from 4 to 5 p.m. for the titles of “Best Jambalaya” and “Best Gumbo.” The top teams in each category will be announced at 6:15 p.m. and each get to take home an engraved wooden paddle for a year. Winners in second and third place in each category also will be announced and be awarded plaques.

Attendees can also vote for their favorite team to win the “People’s Choice” award. The winner will be announced at 7 p.m.

All team members will receive participation prizes.Local culinary professionals from the St. Charles Parish school system and Nicholls State University along with Miss St. Charles Parish will judge the entries.

Cook-off proceeds benefit the United Way of St. Charles. It is among the nonprofit’s top two signature events with last year’s competition drawing a record-breaking 7,000 attendees and generating $45,000.

The cook-off also serves as United Way’s kick-off for its annual fundraising campaign and helps raise awareness about the organization’s services to the community.

“We are optimistic we will meet or exceed that amount this year,” Frederick said. “Money raised will provide lasting changes throughout St. Charles Parish in areas of education, income and health. UW will provide over $2.6 million in support to 27 local agencies and 100-plus programs in 2015-16.”

Battle for the Paddle began 14 years ago with a group of five volunteers from United Way organizing the event and 10 teams competing for best jambalaya. The event has grown to more than 120 teams and added a gumbo category.

United Way’s other main event is its Bridge Run. Next year’s run will be its 20th anniversary for the event.

Cook-off tickets are $5 each, including all-you-can-eat gumbo and jambalaya. The fee also includes live music, games and more. Children age 10 and under get in free. Beer is $2 each and soft drinks, $1 each.

Free parking will be available at three locations on Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway: Satellite Center,  R.K. Smith and St. Charles Parish Public Schools Maintenance Facility with free bus transportation to and from a designated bus stop near the entrance gates.

Teams can register for the competition beginning Sept. 25. Registration fee is $175.

To register as a team or for more information, visit ww.uwaysc.org or call Tamara Plattsmier at (985) 331-9063.


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