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Monday, March 9, 2020

Gumbo Gladiators


Spend the day sampling more than 50 different gumbos for a great cause

Perhaps one of the best things about living in Louisiana is the opportunity to chow down on delicious Cajun cuisine while simultaneously assisting a great cause! The 8th Annual Battle of the will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on March 21 at Festival Plaza in downtown Shreveport. All proceeds directly benefit Volunteers for Youth Justice (VYJ).

Amie Baham, development director of Volunteers for Youth Justice, is looking forward to the delicious event. “The Battle of the Gumbo Gladiators is a really fun and family-friendly event,” Baham said. “I guess everyone just loves to eat gumbo because it seems that everyone attending the event is always happy!” People should come out and support the Battle, not just for a fun afternoon, but to support the great cause behind the great food. “The Battle of the Gumbo Gladiators is the largest annual fundraiser for Volunteers for Youth Justice, whose mission is to provide a community caring for children, youth and families in crisis,” Baham said.

All the funds raised will be used to support the current six VYJ programs: court programs (FINS), youth programs, TASC (Truancy Assessment Service Center), TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention), Misdemeanor Referral Center and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). VYJ was established in 1981 by members of First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport, with the mission of providing intervention services to children involved in the juvenile justice system.

“These various VYJ programs rely on community volunteers to provide advocacy for child victims of abuse or neglect and those who are at risk of being involved in the juvenile court system,” Baham said. “The programs provide developmentally appropriate, consequential and educational diversion services. VYJ serves children of all ages, racial and socio-economic backgrounds in Northwest Louisiana, which include the following parishes: Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Jackson, Claiborne, Bienville and Webster.”

“Attendees can expect a fun day of gumbo sampling to their hearts’ content,” Baham said. The gumbos are cooked by competing teams, each looking to take home the cash prize and bragging rights.

There are three categories that the various gumbo teams compete in for judging, including 1: Chicken & Sausage; 2: Seafood and 3: Lagniappe. “In the past, some of our Lagniappe gumbos have included alligator, rabbit, deer, tamale, pulled pork, to name a few,” Baham said. All gumbo entries are prepared on site, including roux made from scratch.

Baham especially enjoys trying all the unique gumbos represented at the battle. “I can usually only sample a small portion of what’s actually out there, but I always give it my best shot,” Baham laughed.

Admission to the Battle is free, and each four-ounce gumbo tasting only costs $2. With over 50 different gumbos to sample, there’s sure to be something yummy for all palates and taste buds in which to indulge. There’s even a secret tip to making the most of your experience there. “Come with a friend or two, and share your sample if you want to try to taste them all!” Baham advised.

Last year, the Battle of the Gumbo Gladiators saw almost 6,000 people attend and sample gumbo. This year, the VYJ has high hopes for even higher numbers and even more funds raised. Major sponsors this year include Mr. Thrifty, the Alta and John Franks Foundation, W. Ross Foote, LLC, Glazer’s Beer & Beverage, Carter Federal Credit Union, Ark-La-Tex Tents & Events, Nelson & Hammons, and Kilpatrick’s Rose-Neath.


For more information on this exciting battle, contact Amie Baham at amie.baham@vyjla.org or 318-425-4413.


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