First responders cook-off will have new venue, taking team entries

Michael Wright admits there is still a small amount of concern before each year’s First Responders Cook-Off.

“Right before you first open up and cars start trickling in, you wonder, ‘Are people going to show up?’” he said.

Those doubts are quickly dashed, year in and year out, by the citizens of St. Charles Parish and their friends. The fundraising event is headed into its seventh year and has grown far beyond its original size. The cook-off raised about $7,500 for the parish’s emergency front-line units in year one; in 2022, that number ballooned to approximately $25,000.

“We did an event prior to (the cook-off) that was a friendly competition between the emergency room and EMS,” said Natalie Robert Wright, a committee chair with the event organizer One Team-One Fight. “A lot of people saw that and said it sounded like a good idea. One of the doctors suggested we should make it into a bigger event, and here we are years later.

“The parish has been wonderful, the parish employees phenomenal, the local plants and other businesses have been getting involved … our sponsors have been huge for us.”

The event is presented by Shell Norco. Shell has been a major supporter of the event since the beginning.

“To see the support Shell shows for the first responders of this parish is amazing,” Natalie Wright said. Additional sponsors include “Diamond Level” sponsors G. Smith Motorsports of St. Rose, Brand Scaffolding, and United Rentals. “Platinum Level” sponsors include Valero, DOW, Event Producers, and St. Charles Fast Signs, to name a few.

Money raised is donated to three organizations – one for the Sheriff’s Office’s Fraternal Order of Police, one for the St. Charles Parish Fireman’s Association, and the last for the St. Charles Parish Hospital’s emergency medical services, including the emergency room. The event’s goal is to help each organization update and upgrade equipment – aiding in the effort to save lives. The event also builds camaraderie and provides positive feedback for first responders, which she has experienced first-hand.

There will be all-you-can-eat crawfish, lagniappe fixings, and live music by Shot Time, The Chase Tyler Band, and DJ Phrozen. There will also be hamburgers and hot dogs as an alternative to seafood. Other beverages and beer available for purchase, and there will also be activities for children. This year’s event will enjoy a new addition, partnering with GNO Cornhole League, to hold a tournament during the event itself. There will also be a barn full of animals for a petting zoo, face painting, and local vendor sales.

This will be the first year the event is held at West Bank Bridge Park, the largest venue yet for the cook-off. The event was previously held at Monsanto Park. This year’s event is set for April 15, and team entries are currently being accepted for the cook-off. The event will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the West Bank Bridge Park in Luling. There will be a shuttle bus available from Lafon Performing Arts Center.

“It works out … we’ve grown so big, and this allows us a lot more room,” Michael Wright said. “It’s always an enjoyable time … the solidarity out there, you see between everyone in all these agencies, the smack talking and joking around, it’s always a good time.

Michael and Natalie Wright work as a police officer/firefighter and nurse respectively, and each agreed that the support from the community never fails to astound each year.

“We’re always looking for teams, sponsors, and donations for our parade of prizes,” Wright said. Those interested in entering a team into the competition may e-mail or call Natalie Wright at (504) 559-5643.


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