Cook-off whets tastebuds of park visitors

Published 5:17 am Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The promise of great food with top-notch musical accompaniment, as well as fun for the kids in a beautiful natural environment, attracted a large crowd to the 10th Annual Museums of Cassidy Park Cook-off/BBQ on Saturday.

The exact amount of money raised isn’t known just yet, but after a week of unseasonably cold weather, the warm-up came just in time.

Visitors of all ages sampled the savory handiwork of 12 cook teams, with Big Daddy O and the Dynamic Duo of Keenan Knight and Stuart Varnado providing a musical background. Children took free canoe rides provided by Bogalusa Explorer Post 313 and Bush Venturer crew 213, or worked their youthful muscles in a bounce house.

In the flood of March 2016, which took place about a week before the annual Cook-off was scheduled, the two museums suffered damages that forced them out of the park to combine in temporary quarters at 750 Avenue F. The space is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Museums president Sandy Bloom said the museums are now working with the city, the state, and FEMA to devise a plan for a permanent location.

“We need to be out of the flood plain, so that makes returning to the park unlikely,” she said.

But Bloom was buoyed by the community support on Saturday.

“This year’s cook-off was a wonderful comeback after last year’s devastation,” she said. “We are overwhelmed by the loyalty and community support of our sponsors, cooking teams, volunteers, and, of course, those who came out to join in the celebration of food, fellowship and our heritage.”

And community was, indeed, the focus as people ate or picked out a cake to take home, while they chatted and relaxed under the towering trees of Cassidy Park.