Miss-Lou made cook-off a success

Published 12:12 am Monday, September 12, 2011

A giant “thank you” to the residents of the Miss-Lou for making the United Way seventh annual jambalaya cook-off such a huge success. Local businesses, organizations, churches and families came together to find out who makes the best jambalaya while supporting United Way, its partnering agencies, and the men and woman who put their lives on the line for our freedom.

Because of your support, we raised $4,000, which is $862 more than what was raised last year, making this one of the most well attended and successful kick-offs ever. On behalf of United Way and our partnering agencies, please accept our heartfelt thanks and appreciation.

The event kicked off United Way’s three-month campaign in which the goal is to raise $175,000 to help support much needed public service programs in the Miss-Lou. This money helps provide emergency food and shelter for many abused and neglected children, meals and transportation for our communities’ elderly, affordable counseling to families in need, and youth programs which focus on educational achievement and job readiness.

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Our special thanks, to the 16 cooking teams who came out to compete for the jambalaya championship trophy. Among them were six new teams participating this year. It is truly a joy watching this event grow. The teams which made up this fierce competition were Callon Petroleum, Carby & Carby, Concordia Bank & Trust, Isle of Capri Casino, Team Dagos and Cajuns, Natchez Community Hospital, Natchez Council on Aging, The Castle/Dunleith, The Markets, VFW, Adams County Master Gardeners, Adams County Cattleman’s Association, Krewe of Fat Mama’s, Glenburney Healthcare, Natchez Grand Hotel and Concordia United Methodist Churches.

What an experience walking through the convention center parking lot at 5:30 a.m. while the teams began to set up and get down to business, well before most of the Miss-Lou was even awake. This year’s theme was personal for many participants and everyone really went all out with their booth decorations. The convention center was transformed into a salute to our troops, complete with all the red white and blue, military attire and humvees, yes several of the teams had military vehicles brought in as part of their decorated booths. The band “WaySide” donated their time and provided wonderful entertainment, many businesses donated deserts, and all of our local media did a great job publicizing and promoting the cook-off.

Once again Roscoe with First Natchez Radio Group did an amazing job as he emceed the event. Donny Rentfro, CEO of Community Hospital, was introduced as the 2011 campaign chairman and spoke about United Way and its efforts in the community. An event of this magnitude would not be possible without the hard work of the men and women who make up the United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou Board of Directors. Rev. Darian Duckworth, board chairman, our 32 member board, and United Way’s Business Director Tammy Prince, are the heart and soul of this organization, a true team who always seems to make the impossible possible.

By far, the toughest job always falls on the judges and in keeping with the Salute the Troops theme local members of the military, retired and active were invited to judge the cook-off. Joel Cameron, John Evans, Eric Wilson, Rev. Jon Shonebarger Jr., Larry Lawrence, Major Charles Harrigill, Jessie Turner, Darryl Clardy, Ralph Jennings, Wilbur Johnson, Nate Williams and Rev. Clinton Marvel all did an amazing job!

After tasting each team’s jambalaya in a blind tasting, then carefully deliberating, they came to a unanimous decision making the Natchez Senior Center the first place winners, The Markets second and right behind in third place was Natchez Community Hospital. Best decorated team booth went to the Isle of Capri, for the second year in a row and Natchez Senior Center also took home the award for best agency booth. This year the peoples choice award went to the Adams County Master Gardeners. Congratulations to all!

For more information about United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou, our partnering agencies, or the countless ways to get involved and make a difference, contact Tammy Prince at 601-442-1081.

Tiffany Mascagni is the executive director of the United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou