Bonfire Fest features fun, gumbo

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 15, 2010



LUTCHER – Hundreds of residents from across the River Parishes and beyond were drawn out to Lutcher this past weekend for the 21st annual Festival of the Bonfires at Lutcher Park.

The annual three-day event serves as a prelude to the famous Christmas Eve bonfire lightings across the levee from Paulina to Reserve. Each night of the festival was highlighted by a single bonfire lighting, orchestrated by the festival’s Queen, Cherish Vicknair, and teen Queen, Lindsay Dufresne.

In addition to hours of live music, crafts, and carnival rides, the marquee event for Friday night was the wildly popular Gumbo cook-off, where more than 50 entrants squared off to win the coveted “Best in Show” trophy.

Festival volunteer Larry Roussel, who annually handles the cook-off, said the 51 gumbo entries was a new record for the festival.

“The contest usually draws somewhere between 30 and 40, so we are quite excited by the big turnout,” Roussel said. “The great weather was a factor in the increase.”

Roussel said chicken gumbo was the big draw of the festival, where 31 entries were registered. The top three winning teams in chicken were Stan Bourgeois, Tim “T-Nutt” and Tiffany Bourgeois, and Steve Burke.

Roussel said seafood gumbo entrants were well below the average draw this year and only brought in seven teams. He said the effects of this summer’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico played a factor in the limited entries.

The top three winning teams in seafood were: Gayle Rome, Terry McCreary and Cory Seaton; Jason Poche, Eric Jacob, Jeffery Lambert, Brandon Poche and Kevin “Puggy” Louque; and Eric Brignac and Brian Bourgeois.

In the final division, mélange, there were 14 entries.

The top three teams were Bryan Oubre and John Copponex, Brent Dicharry, and Jeremy and Ben Martin.

Best Gumbo team of the festival went to Jason Poche, Eric Jacob, Jeffery Lambert, Brandon Poche and Kevin “Puggy” Louque, and the best in show Gumbo went to Stan Bourgeois’ chicken gumbo. Roussel said Bourgeois’ winning chicken entry was the first non-seafood winning entry in recent memory.

“It has been quite some time since chicken has taken the top spot,” Roussel. “It earned it.”