The Gramercy Festival of the Bonfires

Dan and I repeatedly refused Peggy's offers of snacks or lunch etc. all day yesterday, while setting up the Christmas tree and dragging the decorations outa da attic. Hard to believe, I know, but the reason will soon become evident. Peg, dropped Dan and I off at the festival gate and we headed straight over to our favorite part of the Friday night festivities: The Gumbo Cookoff !!!! Some of the best Gumbo cooks of this little Cajun river town get together every year and compete for Gumbo cookin' braggin' rites. It's amazing! There are around 50 pots of gumbo that are judged in 3 catagories, with 1 overall winner. The 3 catagories are:Seafood, Chicken, and Melange (anything other than the first 2). They also competed in potato salad and bread puddin catagories. These are Gumbo's favorite companions in this part of Bayou Country. As you move west through Cajun Land the potato salad is replaced with baked sweet potato. We had a real blast sipping beers, walking around and consuming 12 of those little bowls of Gumbo.......... yep you heard me 12 bowls.................... EACH!!!!!!!!! Ohhhh and did I mention the puddin??? :-) We walked around laughing and joking with folks. Lots of them wanted me to take my picture with 'em cause even in my overalls and flannel I was the most "Santa-lookin" guy there. Lots of kids and beer drinkin', fun lovin, partyin gumbo cooks hollered,"Now das a Cajun Santa Claus", as I passed their booths. It was a lot of fun. We ran into Pam and Adele, some good friends of ours, who were also enjoying the festivites. I wish I could tell yall all the winners, and maybe we can post the newspaper article with all their names later. Dan and I agreed what was our favorite: the seafood gumbo prepared by the I.E.S. team from Gonzales La. The judges agreed with us, too, and that gumbo won best seafood and overall best Gumbo awards. It was rich and spicy and very thick with sweet blue point crab meat. Team I.E.S. won top gumbo honors, but there was another fun loving, jolly cooking team that placed in, like 4 of the 5 food catagories and won best overall team. The proud folks in da picture are the over Tall team winners "Team Couyon", and judging from the way they laughed, cheered and celebrated, it seems these "crazies" were aptly named. They made ya feel good and lifted your spirits, just watching them celebrate their impressive victory. I tipped my Santa hat to them:) After the judging was over, we had a wonderful time going from booth to booth congratulating winners and joining in on the festivities. Win or lose, everyone was partying. Lots of beer drinking and back patting, hugs, etc. Winners consoling and complimenting losers, and everywhere ya could hear, "Don't worry, you will get em next year", and " Yours was soooo good, it shoulda won". It was a wonderful display, and again, convinced me that "foodies' display good sportsmanship and can party with the best of em. In the last picture, by invitation, I toasted the 3rd place winners of the Melange catagory, by drinkin' from their Gumbo bowl trophy. They were celebrating their third-place victory in Grand Champion style. Now thats 'joie de vie'.

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