Cassidy Park Cookoff attracts crowd

Published 7:27 am Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A warm, sunny day and a well-earned reputation for offering a wide variety of exceptional food attracted a big crowd to Bogalusa Saturday for the Cassidy Park Cook-off, a benefit for the Museums of Cassidy Park.

The activity started early in the day when the eight competing teams of chefs cranked up their grills and cookers and got busy whipping up nearly 50 dishes.

Soon the savory aromas of seafood, beef, pork, poultry and wild game, cooking according to a wondrous assortment of recipes, mingled with the good-natured “trash-talking” in the tree-shaded air.

By afternoon, as Big Daddy O and Keenan Knight added rich live music to the mix, the judges had tasted the contending recipes and the general sampling began.

As has become the rule, the judges had a tough time picking the winners, and, besides the Museums, the attendees were the beneficiaries.

Everyone who paid admission got a red bean to use as a vote for the People’s Choice award.

After making a pass through, Brook Swire exclaimed she needed more beans.

“I have too many favorites,” she said. “Mmmm. I’d better have another round.”

She buoyantly grabbed another plate, red bean still nestled in her pocket.

The judging may have been tough, but somebody had to do it, and the winners were announced later in the day.

In the Seafood category, Wing Bones won first place for its BBQ shrimp and grits cakes, the Sheriff’s Chefs team took second place for its seafood gumbo, and Dempsey’s Etal won third place for catfish cakes.

In the Beef category, Wing Bones took first place for its brisket quesadillas; the Sheriff’s Chefs won second place for beef brisket, and Team Double D took third place with its beef and fried eggplant.

In the Pork category, the Mayor’s Office team won first place for its pork ribs, Wing Bones took second place for its pork ribs, and Louisiana Smoke and Boil won third place for its pork ribs.

In the Fowl category, the Sheriff’s Chefs won first place for its leg quarters, Wing Bones took second place for its domestic duck, and Andouille gumbo and the Bogalusa Fire Department team won third place for its chicken quarters.

In the Wild Game category, Wing Bones won first place for its deer nachos; Dempsey’s Etal took second place for its boudin eggrolls and Team O’Ree won third place for its deer recipe.

The People’s Choice Award went to Carney’s Kitchen, which offered gumbo and pulled pork. And the Lagniappe team, which used the front end of a classic car for a counter, won for Best Decorated Booth.

While the teams of chefs got the prizes and acclaim, the non-profit and volunteer-driven Pioneer and Native American Culture museums, which offer free admission as well as classes, lectures and informative exhibits, benefited through the annual event.

The bottom-line numbers will be tallied later this week, but the annual event appeared to be a successful family favorite, said Museums Committee Secretary Jennifer McDow who thanked the participants.

“We had lots of dedicated volunteers, sponsors and cooks,” she said. “We couldn’t have done it without them!”

The museums, which have won widespread acclaim, are a rare enhancement for such a small community, McDow said. She encourages everyone to take advantage of the educational opportunities they offer.

“I hope everyone will come and enjoy the various classes and lectures offered, and utilize the paper making equipment,” McDow said. “We have a rich history in our little city. The museums are a great way to ensure that we never forget it.”