MONIQUE BATSON — July event bringing community fun while also raising money for Port Arthur students

Published 12:38 am Saturday, May 21, 2022

On Tuesday afternoon, more than a dozen seniors from Port Arthur high schools will gather at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center to accept a portion of $16,500 in scholarship funds.

The annual event will be hosted by the Rotary Club of Port Arthur.

As a Rotarian and a member of the club’s Scholarship Committee, I recently read through a stack of essays from students at Memorial High School, Bob Hope High School, Sabine Pass High School and Tekoa Academy.

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I was introduced to local students that would be the first in their families to graduate high school, much less attend college. I visually walked through their pasts, their struggles and the way they overcame adversity.

And it will be my privilege on Tuesday to be on hand and witness as these deserving teenagers get one more of the many tools they will need in the next chapter of their lives.

But it’s not something we can do alone.

Like everything else, Southeast Texas service organizations were hit hard by COVID. Even now, as things seem almost back to normal, participation is at a low and recruiting new members remains a constant challenge.

And the fundraisers that pay for things such as scholarships have been greatly impacted, as well.

In February, the Rotary Club of Port Arthur was to host the 35th annual Taste of Gumbo. However, a surge in the omicron variant forced us to cancel the event that raises the money needed for our annual scholarship program.

This year the near-$17,000 handed out will be done in advance of fundraising.

And that’s where we need your help. But, in return, we’re promising you a day of fun in what will be a first for Port Arthur.

The Taste of Summer is scheduled for July 9 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center.

Those missing the Taste of Gumbo will not be lacking for long, as there will be a gumbo cook-off to serve your Southeast Texas favorite, even in 100-degree weather.

But the event will also feature food vendors from all across the region offering up a variety of different foods for you to try.

The family friendly event will have live music featuring the Rollin Bones, a group of local business professionals that also happen to have the ability to play amazing music.

There will be a Touch-a-Truck section for children, allowing them to explore a variety of the vehicles they see on the roads each day.

There will be door prizes and a silent auction.

And, in a first to kick-off this first, we will have a beer garden. Visitors 21 and older will be able to sample and buy from a variety of craft beer.

No worries, parents, this section will be separated and staffed with police officers to ensure safety.

Those interested in becoming a vendor or participating in the gumbo cook-off, can contact me at 409-540-3655. However, I will say spots are filling up quickly, so if you’re interested, please call soon. There is no fee to participate.

Area organizations wanting to donate to the cause are welcome to do so, and all donations are tax deductible.

Tickets will be sold at the gate for $10, and children under 5 are free.

So please join us this summer to enjoy food, fun and fellowship while raising money to help local youth reach their career dreams.

Monique Batson is the Port Arthur Newsmedia editor. She can be reached at