For over fifty years, the Bridge City Gumbo Festival has served up a family-oriented and fun-filled weekend at the base of the Huey P. Long Bridge across from New Orleans on the Westbank of the Mississippi River. It began in 1967 as a small, local fair to benefit Holy Guardian Angels Catholic Church. By 1973, Reverend Monsignor J. Anthony Luminais grew the event into a larger festival with the support and assistance of Holy Guardian Angels’ parishioners. This caught the attention of Governor Edwin Edwards, who soon declared Bridge City “The Gumbo Capital of the World.” Ever since, thousands of festival-goers have flocked to Bridge City to get a taste of its “World Famous” gumbo.
Each year, the festival serves over 2,000 gallons of gumbo. It features two classic varieties: seafood gumbo and chicken and sausage gumbo. Attendees can also taste a sampling of other Louisiana dishes including jambalaya, red beans and rice, and fried seafood, as well as All-American favorites like funnel cakes, hot dogs, and hamburgers. The festival invites members of the community to participate in the Gumbo Cooking Contest. Contestants are asked to submit their best seafood or chicken and sausage gumbo to be judged. The winners are announced on stage, receiving a ribbon along with the bragging rights and satisfaction of having the best gumbo in town.
In addition to food, the festival celebrates other aspects of Louisiana’s culture. Attendees can purchase crafts and other goods from local vendors. The Ferris wheel is a highlight of the festival’s carnival rides and games, providing riders a bird’s eye view of the festival grounds and the Huey P. Long Bridge. The festival also includes live, local entertainment that represents the diversity of Louisiana’s music traditions including swamp pop, Latin, and zydeco music. A common feature of many Louisiana festivals, festival-goers may also get a glimpse of the reigning royalty, better known as Miss Creole Gumbo and King Creole Gumbo. After the festival ends, these representatives travel across the state encouraging everyone they meet to make the trip to Bridge City the following year.