ROUX THE DAY: A jumbo gumbo cook-off and auction benefits the museum and Destin history

Laura Hall, Under the Radar
Norm Hall, board member, with Kathy Marler Blue, assistant director of the Destin History and Fishing Museum.

I recently visited the Destin History and Fishing Museum and found Associate Director Kathy Marler Blue busy at work.  It’s gumbo contest fundraiser time.

Dan Martin is the auction chairman this year with Don Rogers as the gumbo contest chairman. The mission of the Destin History and Fishing Museum is to preserve Destin’s history by stimulating interest and understanding of the village of Destin, its history, and its fishing and tourism industries through experiences that educate and inspire.

This mission statement requires big bucks from year to year. 

One big fund raiser is the annual Gumbo Contest and silent auction now in its eighth year and going strong.  All restaurants and individuals are encouraged to join the contest.  Last year there were 16 restaurants and over a dozen individuals registered in the event.  Last year’s Restaurant Category gave first place to Harry T’s and Individual Category, first place to Tom Ogle.  The People’s Choice Award went to Pompano Joe’s Seafood Restaurant and the individual to Alvin Claybrone.

I visited with Harry T’s General Manager Paula Mitchell and Chef Chris Fortner to talk about their plans for the heated competition this year. 

Paula said when she came to work for Harry T’s they had the most awful gumbo recipe she had ever tasted. Paula said, “One year we entered the contest and came in 89th.  We were not invited back the next year.  I had this recipe I thought was really good so we begged our way back into the contest and last year we were number one!  What I want to say is for 2014, we’re going for the gold.”

Kathy says the donations for the silent auction are beginning to come in and she has been cataloging the fabulous donations.  Last year they had 81 packages. They would love to have more donations from the community.  These can be dropped off at the museum or they can be picked up. Kathy can be reached at 837-6611. All donations are tax deductible.

Some of the exciting donations that will be available for you to bid on have already started arriving at the museum: work from local artists, vacations, jewelry, antiques, recreational activities, and golf packages from Emerald Bay Golf and Golf Garden.  An incredibly beautiful, antique, petit point purse can be yours or the uniquely designed chess chest, made in Germany, with playing pieces designed with horses, buildings and soldiers from the Civil War.

Love our Destin restaurants? Some of the bid packages come from Margaritaville, Back Porch, Capt Dave’s, Crab Island Cantina, and Boschamps.  For those of you who love fishing, watch for trips available from Destin Princess, Destiny Party Boats and Swoop II. 

Want to press your luck? Grand Casino offers one night free stay and a $100 gift certificate at their LB Steak House. If you like the IP (used to be Imperial Palace), they offer one free night and two buffet meals. 

Emerald Coast Scuba offers two snorkel trips for four and also swimming lessons. Newman Dailey has submitted an auction bid item including a three-day, two-night condo stay in the Destin area across the street from the beach.

More donations arrive every day so let your imagination soar. 

Mark your calendar for the big day. Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Destin Community Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Advance tickets at the museum are $10; $12 at the door. Live music will be provided by Flash Flood.

Laura Hall is a longtime Destin resident.  She writes about area gardens and other local topics of interest, sometimes with her dog Annie in tow.  Got a good topic? Contact her at