Jambalaya Festival celebrates 51 years

Halen Doughty

The 51st annual Jambalaya Festival was held in Gonzales over the Memorial Day weekend. Families enjoyed the vast variety of food, fun, music and activities that have made the Jambalaya Festival the most anticipated event of the year.

The festival features all sorts of family-friendly entertainment. Of course, World Champion Jambalaya is served daily, but that's not all the fest has to offer. There's also plenty of live music and entertainment, carnival rides, cooking contests, a variety of food, and tons of fun throughout the weekend event.

The Jambalaya Festival has a deep history in Ascension Parish. Jambalaya is a vital part of the community not only in the parish, but Gonzales specifically. Gonzales was named the Jambalaya Capital of The World on June 10, 1968, in a proclamation made by then Governor John J. McKeithen.

The Jambalaya Festival Association was chartered in 1967, and the first festival was held in 1968. To this day, the Jambalaya Festival Association remains committed to giving back to the community. The association provides jambalaya to local organizations at various events throughout the year. The profits made at the Jambalaya Festival are used to provide the dinners to countless organizations in Ascension Parish.

The World Champion Jambalaya Cooking contest is held at the annual festival in Gonzales. Jambalaya cooking is an art that requires a perfect blend of flavor along with the proper consistency. These cooks practice continually to perfect their recipes to earn the title of "World Champion." Many champions have cooked at other festivals around the state. The 2018 World Champion is Jarrett Marchand.

In 1972 the "Mini Pot" jambalaya cooking contest was introduced. Many of these chefs have more fun cooking their jambalaya than eating it. The dish was cooked in the "World's Smallest Jambalaya Pot," and that tradition continues to this day. The 2018 mini pot champ of champs is Brock Melancon.

Of course, no Louisiana festival would be complete without a queen. The Jambalaya Pageant was held on Saturday in the JFA Building, as local beauties competed for the title of Jambalaya Festival Queen. After a close competition, the winner was crowned. The 2018 Gonzales Jambalaya Queen is Brooke Everett.

The 51st annual Jambalaya Festival was a tremendous success, and everyone is already looking forward to next year's event.

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