The 17th Annual United Way of St. Charles’ Battle for the Paddle will serve up 150 teams Thursday (Oct. 4) with the most competitive gumbo and jambalaya cook-off in the area.
“It’s like the largest cook-off in the state,” said UW Event planner Tamara Plattsmier. “It’s a big one.”
Expected to draw more than 7,000 people, the teams will be serving up the food from 3 to 7 p.m. at Judge Edward Dufresne Community Center.
A $5 ticket gets a visitor an all-you-can eat meal at the battle. Children age 10 and under get in free.
Judging will begin at 3:30 p.m. and winners will be announced at 7:15 p.m., Plattsmier said.
Contestants will compete 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.
Some new additions to the event will be “Text To Vote,” which allows the public to submit their vote by text for the People’s Choice awards. Also, there will be new engraved awards for winners, canned beer and live music provided by Five Finger Discount and See Hear Productions.
Performances will begin at 5 p.m.
In addition to canned beer, the event will feature a daiquiri stand for the first time.
A family-friendly gathering, the cook-off will also have snowballs on this year’s menu. There will be $1 soft drinks and $2 beer.
Free parking will be available at the Lafon Performing Arts Center for team members. The public will park at West Bank Bridge Park and be shuttled from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. to the entrance of the event. Parking is also available at the 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 St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office will ensure visitors travel safely.
Cook-off proceeds, typically around $45,000, benefit the United Way and serve as the organization’s kick-off for its annual fundraising campaign.
In her seventh year of organizing the event, Plattsmier said the competition has steadily grown in teams and visitors.
“It’s been kind of amazing for me watching the growth of it,” she said. Plattsmier said she’s seen the event grow from 60 teams to more than 150, as well as the stage gone from donated scaffolding to a professional one with a production team for sound. “I feel we’ve definitely grown the event and it’s a feeling of accomplishment.”
But Plattsmier emphasized this is no one-woman show, but one that’s encompassed the many contributions of people who helped make it a success. For more information, visit www.uwaysc.org or call Plattsmier at (985) 331-9063.