Taste of Gumbo returns for great tastes, better causes

Published 12:16 am Wednesday, January 31, 2024

For more than 30 years the Rotary Club of Port Arthur has served Greater Port Arthur through grants funded by The Taste of Gumbo.

The Rotary Club is a service organization with the belief, commitment and motto of “Service Above Self.”

The Taste of Gumbo raises funds that provide an avenue for the club to impact the community through grant awards and the completion of hands-on tasks that improve the lives of families in Southeast Texas.

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Taste of Gumbo began in 1986 and raises as much as $11,000 each year.

It continues to be the primary fundraiser for the club. The event usually takes place in February or March and has survived hurricanes and COVID-19.

During the 2017-18 year in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, there was no Taste of Gumbo; however, the next years saw large successes for this event. The 2020 event is one of the most successful.

Plenty of gumbo, a silent auction, door prizes, booths, tasty desserts, games for children and more are enjoyed.

Most exciting of all was recent addition of Rollin’ Bones  led by Rotarian Dr. Barry Davis. The band plays a variety of music throughout the event. Many now look forward to hearing the band’s rendition of “You Never Even Called Me by My Name.”

“Returning after Hurricane Harvey was a bigger success than anyone could have imagined,” Rotarian Johnny E. Brown said.

The event was named Taste of Summer and held July 9, 2022, inside the Carl Parker Multi-Purpose Center. Then Queen Gumbo Monique Batson was relieved that despite COVID, summer heat and a fresh return to indoors, the event was another success, as was the 2023 event led by Queen Gumbo Dana Espinal.

The 2023 event saw a return of the Taste of Gumbo to its original format.

The 2024 Taste of Gumbo is shaping up as another festivity to remember.

The majority of the funds received from Taste of Gumbo are used for the Scholarship Program. Each year the Rotary Club of Port Arthur awards scholarships to local seniors graduating from a high school in Port Arthur.

In the past five years, the Rotary Club of Port Arthur has awarded more than $60,000 in scholarships.

This year’s event takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 17 at Bob Bowers Civic Center.

Tickets are $10 each. For more information, contact King Gumbo Jesus Acosta at jesus.acosta@bobhopeschool.org or Espinal at espinaldm@lamarpa.edu .

“There is only one Cajun Capital of Texas and there can be only one Gumbo Champion,” Acosta said. “We will determine who is the Gumbo Champion at the 36th Annual Taste of Gumbo event. Hope to see you there!”

Espinal noted this community event was founded in 1986 by late Rotarian Floyd W. Marceaux to celebrate local culinary talent and camaraderie.

“Today it is a local tradition to celebrate our culinary heritage while Rotarians serve to raise funds for our local community’s needs, in the true spirit of Rotary’s motto – Service Above Self,” Espinal said.

“I believe Port Arthur illustrates the importance of how impactful one idea, back in 1986, has brought so many together for the good of our community and to celebrate our culture.”