. - The annual Gonzales Jambalaya Festival is celebrating its 50th year and despite a few changes, it promises to be just as good.
Whether it is the music, dance moves, or steaming pots of chicken and rice it is clearly that time again. The annual Jambalaya Festival kicked off a weekend of fun in Gonzales Friday.
"This is our 50th year having this jambalaya festival so we're very proud of that," said mayor Barney Arceneaux. "It's one of the things that Gonzales has always done very well."
It is tradition and every year the 'Jambalaya Capital of the World,' as Gonzales is called, showcases the best cooks around and this milestone year is no different.
The crowning jewel of the festival, the jambalaya cook off, is usually enjoyed from the Gonzales Civic Center but this year it cannot happen there because the flood back in August heavily damaged the building.
Kim Babin believes the annual event takes on a whole new meaning this year. She says it is a little taste of normalcy for those still in recovery mode.
"The flood, unless you lived through it you have no clue," Babin said. "It's something that we're used to coming to every year and we don't have to think about what happened in August of last year."
More than a hundred pots will be churning throughout the weekend with some of the best jambalaya Ascension Parish has to offer and while only one team will take home the top prize many say there is no real secret to bring home the win.
"Just cook your best jambalaya and pray that it's the best when they go to taste it," said Mark Babin.
Babin's friends call him 'Snackbar' and the name fits. He has participated for a number of years but this is the first year he has signed up as a cook in the competition. He says being a part of this festival though is in his blood.
"I like the history, I like the comradery and I like to come out here and meet people," Babin added. "It's something I like to do. I like to cook."
From the right ingredients to the smiles on so many faces, Arceneaux says the festival is the perfect recipe for continued success in his city.
"Gonzales is still strong. We're still a strong city and the flood didn't hold us back," Arceneaux said.
For a complete list of event for the Jambalaya Festival, click here.