Destin gumbo contest, auction big success for museum

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

About 500 folks poured into the Destin Community Center on Saturday to get a taste of some of the areas finest gumbo and a chance to bid on some hot-ticket items at the Destin History and Fishing Museum’s 14th annual Gumbo Contest and Silent Auction.

And the gumbo didn’t disappoint with seven local restaurants competing for bragging rights as well as 12 individuals.

“The competition was very close,” said Kathy Marler-Blue, executive director of the Museum.

Taking first place in the Individual Category were William Braddock and his daughter Alexa Braddock, who placed second last year. The Braddocks, of Pensacola, also won the People’s Choice in the individual category.

“It’s kind of a recipe I’ve been working on for 11 years,” William said.

He said he picked up a few tips from his late Aunt Lena of Louisiana, but his recipe has come from mostly “trials and tribulations ... and it’s working,” he said.

This was his fifth time to enter the gumbo contest in Destin.

“I’m always changing it up ... and I don’t measure anything. Cooking is something that comes to me easy,“ said Braddock, who works as a handyman.

And he always enjoys competing in the gumbo contest.

“It’s always a good time,” he said.

Placing second in the individual competition was Tom Minerva, and long-time Destin resident Dottie Jones placed third.

In the Restaurant Category, Dewey Destin’s Restaurant took first place as well as the People’s Choice Award, voted on by the many tasters of the day.

Harry T’s, which took first last year, placed second this year.

And new to the winner’s circle this year was AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, which finished third in the restaurant division.

As for the silent auction, folks had the chance to bid on 158 packages, from fishing trips to golf outings to framed art and Yeti coolers.

“The bidding wars were evident on fishing trips and recreational activities, weekend get-a-ways and restaurants,” Blue said.

Between the ticket sales for the event and bids on packages, the event raised more than $16,000 for the museum increase of about $1,000 over last year’s gumbo festival.

“We had a very successful event to help fund our mission statement,” Blue said. “We are forever grateful to those that donate items for our silent auction and the individuals and restaurants that step forward to enter the gumbo contest. It is an excellent opportunity for businesses to get their name out to our winter guests and locals that attend the event.

“Our event relies on this wonderful giving community who believe in our mission of preserving Destin's heritage,” she said.

Proceeds from this event help to pay for upkeep and expansion of the museum programs and exhibits. The Destin History and Fishing Museum is located at 108 Stahlman Avenue in Destin.