The 24th annual Sandestin Gumbo Festival drew a record crowd of more than 2,000 people to the Village of Baytowne Wharf Saturday, according to the festival’s organizers.

Lanier Motes, special events manager for The Village of Baytowne Wharf said,”Many Gulf Coast restaurants serve up their best gumbo, hoping to take home the ‘Area’s Best’ and ‘People’s Choice’ awards.The Gumbo Festival is one of our longest running and most enjoyable food events.”

It was a cool day, the sun was shining, and the crowds were eager to sample gumbo from the 18 participating teams while enjoying live music from the Waylon Thibodeaux Band.

Drinks were flowing from the eateries in Baytowne with patrons dancing in the streets, while children had fun on the merry-go-round, climbed the ropes course, and zip lined across the lake.

The 24th Annual Gumbo Festival is proud to have hosted a panel of food savvy celebrity judges including Elizabeth Taliaferro, Food Editor of Cooking with Paula Deen magazine; Susan Benton (me), Owner of; Frank Hess, Mitchell’s Fish Market; and the event emcee, Scott Rossman, NBC/WJHG-TV Sports Reporter.  After tasting each participant’s gumbo in a blind judging, the panel awarded the following with the title of “Area’s Best” in three categories including: Veterans, Five Years and Under, and First-Time Participants.

The winners are: In the “Veterans” Category First Place went to Pompano Joe’s; Second Place to 98 Bar-B-Que; and Third Place to Tops’l Beach and Racquet Resort. In the “Five Years and Under” category First Place went to Marina Bar and Grill; Second Place to Bubba Gump Shrimp Company; and Third Place to Soundside at Hurlburt Field.  For the “First-Time Participants” category: First Place went to Baytowne Floating Society; Second Place to 790 on The Gulf.

Marina Bar and Grill and Buster’s Bar and Grill tied for “Best Display,” also determined by the judging panel. Buster’s Bar and Grille has competed in the Sandestin Gumbo Festival each year of the event.

The Sandestin Gumbo Festival is proud to partner with: The United Way, where a portion of the net event proceeds benefit local United Way agencies and The Walton County Education Foundation; and these local sponsors: The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Visit South Walton,, The Northwest Florida Daily News, The Destin Log, Wave 102.1, Highway 98.1 and 103.1 The Blaze.

If wanting a little history on gumbo with a seafood gumbo recipe to cook at home click here. For chicken & sausage gumbo click here.

The 25th Annual Sandestin Gumbo Festival will be held on Saturday, February 15, 2014.  Visit for details coming soon.


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