The CrawDebauchery Food and Music Festival Brings the Best Gumbo to Pompano Beach

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New Orleans has always stood as one of the most individual cities in the United States, seamlessly blending native culture with French, Latin, and Creole influences. When it comes to food, there's a never-ending list of specialty dishes that highlight the area's cultural melting pot, from crawfish, gumbo, and poor boys to jambalaya and beignets. 

If you love to eat all things Cajun-inspired, you might want to check out the third-annual CrawDebauchery Food & Music Festival taking place April 2 and 3 at the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre. The annual food and music event is all about two things: New Orleans-style fare prepared by some of the area's best local chefs and plenty of live music (namely jazz).

According to event founder Don Matthews, this year the CrawDebauchery has expanded to become a two-day event, a response to growing attendance numbers over the past two years. Tickets, priced at $25 to $125, are available online now, and VIP coupons can be exchanged for either a free drink of any kind or a sample portion of crawfish.

Entry into an expanded VIP tent will feature big-screen March Madness basketball, a full liquor bar with VIP happy hour, all-day discount pricing on special craft cocktails from the bartenders of Stache Bar, and  free bloody marys and mimosas for the first two hours each day of the festival. Food vendors include Shuck-n-Dive, Catfish Dewey's, the Royal Pig Pub, Texas Hold 'Em BBQ, Blue Moon Fish Co., and Fat Man's Gator Shack.

In addition to a massive crawfish boil, food, and art vendors, the festival will feature top-tier musicians over the two days, including headliner Galactic — a New Orleans funk group that includes artists Ben Ellman, Robert Mercurio, Stanton Moore, Jeff Raines, and Rich Vogel — on Saturday night.

But it's the festival's "Gumbo Rumble" that offers the biggest draw for area foodies, a cooking competition that — for the first time since the fest's conception — is now open to the public, says Matthews.

"We're looking forward to seeing who produces the best gumbo in the area. It should be a lot of fun."

Local master chefs will determine who in South Florida has the best recipe for the quintessential Louisiana dish. Marked by a strongly flavored stock, meat, or shellfish and the Cajun holy trinity of vegetables (namely celery, bell peppers, and onion), there is only one rule to the competition: The recipe must contain okra and rice.

Competition prizes include a customized trophy as well as free entry to the 2017 Gumbo Rumble. To participate, festivalgoers who want to partake in the Gumbo Rumble must register and pay an entry fee of $100 to compete. Each entrant must also provide his or her own tent, tables, and chairs. Contest details can be found here.

"The idea is to literally bring a taste of Louisiana to South Florida," says Matthews. “Most scholars agree that gumbo originated in Louisiana in the early 18th Century, so its history is deeply rooted.”

The third-annual CrawDebauchery will take place Friday, April 2, and Saturday, April 3, at the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre field grounds, located at 1801 NE Sixth St., Pompano Beach. General admission is $25 per person, and children under 10 are admitted free. Visit CrawDebauchery.com

Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.

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