Taste of Gumbo returns as an in-person event in March
Published 00:28 Wednesday 31 August 2022
For the first time since 2019, Taste of Gumbo will return in person at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center on March 11, 2023.
Planning is underway for the 35th year of the Rotary Club of Port Arthur’s main fundraiser.
“We have committees, and the committees will reach out to the companies and provide information about Taste of Gumbo that they can sign up for,” said President-elect Dana Espinal. “Of course we’ll have gumbo, and we’ll have the silent auction items. The community and small business members are really supporting this with their donations of silent auction items, so we’re excited to have donated a wide variety of different items this year.”
This year, Espinal bears the title “King Gumbo”, as the club calls the main organizer of the event every year.
“This program has been a wonderful opportunity to network and enjoy fellowship in different neighborhoods and groups,” said Johnny Brown, who has been with the club since 2006 and previously served as “King Gumbo” as well as club president. “We have participants ranging in age from 1-2 years to 90 years and from neighborhoods throughout Southeast Texas.”
Espinal said the event, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will include door prizes, silent auction items and live entertainment from Rolling Bones.
“It’s our traditional Taste of Gumbo that we want to bring back after three years,” she said. “So get everyone ready and looking forward to bringing the Taste of Gumbo back to Port Arthur.”
The 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic, which also forced 2021 to become a drive-through event instead of an in-person event. A surge in Omicron cases canceled the 2022 event, which was replaced by the July 9 Taste of Summer.
The club is a 501(c)3, so donations for door prizes, silent auction items, or sponsorships are tax deductible.
“The most important thing is that the money we raise through our club’s fundraiser goes to various programs in the community, such as our scholarship program,” Espinal said. “It’s our way of contributing to the community. So the more people contribute and donate, the more opportunities we have to raise money and give back to our community.”
Earlier this year, Rotary awarded $16,500 in scholarships to students in the Port Arthur area. Other programs include providing car seats to young mothers in need, providing dictionaries to all third grade students in the Port Arthur Independent School District, supporting the Bob Hope School Interact Program, a high school Rotary group, and providing more than 100 Thanksgiving boxed meals for local families.
“It’s a great opportunity to enjoy camaraderie and community involvement, as well as great gumbo,” Brown said. “It’s a bit of a competitive situation where each company is trying to outdo the others. And most importantly, it’s a great fundraiser for our club, most of which goes toward college scholarships for our youth.”