15th annual Battle for the Paddle expected to draw largest crowd ever

All-you-can-eat fundraiser highlights agency’s extraordinary year

With more than 130 teams and nearly 8,000 attendees anticipated for the 15th annual Battle for the Paddle Cook-Off on Thursday, Oct. 6, the United Way of St. Charles is gearing up for its largest fundraiser at the West Bank Bridge Park.

“The growth of Battle for the Paddle over the last several years has been outstanding,” said Tamara Plattsmier, UW volunteer and events manager. “What started as just a few guys from the local plants cooking their favorite jambalaya recipes to raise awareness for the United Way campaign has turned into over 130 teams cooking both jambalaya and gumbo, and over 7,000 attendees there to taste.”

The local cook-off is open to the public from 3 p.m.–7:30 p.m. on Thursday, at the bridge park in Luling.

Judging will begin at 4 p.m.

Contestants are vying for first, second and third place in both gumbo and jambalaya. People’s choice winners, also in first, second and third places in both categories, will also be announced. Individuals will receive a ballot upon entry to the cook-off.

At only $5 entry fee for all-you-can-eat local delicacies by the area’s top cooks, event attendance hit a record last year with more than 7,000 attendees.

Additionally, the entry fee includes entertainment by the well-known, veteran New Orleans-based band Cowboy Mouth, as well as an improved stage and sound. For more than two decades, the band has drawn crowds with its unique rock and roll gumbo style.

Plattsmier said there will be $1 soft drinks and $2. Kids age 10 and under enter free.

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.

“The support we receive from the community is incredible and truly what allows us to put on this event each year,” Plattsmier said. “In addition to the teams, we also have several hundred volunteers who work tirelessly to make this day a success.”

Cook-off proceeds, typically around $45,000, benefit the United Way and serves as the organization’s kick-off for its annual fundraising campaign.

This year’s UW campaign hit a milestone with a record-setting $3 million raised for the organization’s 100-plus programs and 28 partners. The figure is up from the previous year’s $2.8 million, showing 35 percent growth while other United Way organizations reported campaign declines.

“The growth of the United Way of St. Charles fundraising campaign has been a true testament to the generosity of our community,” said John Dias, UW executive director. “This year, we approved the largest community investment in our organization’s history at $2.77 million. We look forward to using funds to advance and grow programs that do everything from feeding and educating kids to helping families break cycles of poverty through workforce development and financial education.”

For more information or to register a Battle for the Paddle team, visit www.uwaysc.org or call Tamara Plattsmier at (985) 331-9063.


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