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Rotary delivering Taste of Gumbo for great causes this weekend. Check out times & details.

For the past 30 years, the Port Arthur Rotary Club and hundreds of local residents have filed into the Bob Bowers Civic Center for the annual Taste of Gumbo.

This year, those hoping to get their hands on the dish will have a slightly different experience due to the pandemic.

Instead of people going inside of the civic center, those wishing to participate will drive through to receive samples. Vendors will open up at the civic center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The event was one of the last of its kind in the area prior to the 2020 shutdown caused by the pandemic.

The 2021 event was originally scheduled last month, but Rotary organizers moved it back after the freezing temperatures inundated the area.

Rotary Club president-elect Art Thomas said he is happy to again host the event.

“The Taste of Gumbo is used to put funds together for the community,” he said. “We give them back in the form of grants. Those grants go towards scholarships, youth development. They also go towards the unfortunate to help pay rent, get food and things like that.”

Money raised from previous events funded grants that have supported the following community initiatives:

  • College scholarships and leadership development;
  • Clients of the Capland Speech Therapy Center; those seeking utility, rent, clothing or food from Community Care Prayer Outreach, United Board of Missions; and
  • the Salvation Army; among other service efforts.

Thomas said the event usually attracts 15-20 vendors offering their own twist on the Cajun dish.

“Because of COVID-19, we will only have about nine this year,” he said. “It is going to be great to get out and socialize a little bit. We have all been trapped in our homes for so long. You won’t be able to sit down and talk with to us like we usually do, but you will be able to pass by and grab some gumbo.”

Those who stop by have a chance to walk away with more than good food, the president-elect said.

“We will also be giving out gift cards to some of our customers as they come through,” Thomas said. “We are going to give away gift cards randomly.”

The civic center has been home to the Port Arthur Health Department’s coronavirus vaccine distribution, which is shut down for the weekends, so the venue is open this weekend.