Who doesn’t love a good bowl of gumbo? Visitors can sample gumbo from professional cooking teams as part of the inaugural Galveston Island Shrimp Festival. Shrimp Festival activities begin on Friday, Sept. 24 and continue through Sunday, Sept. 26. Events include a 5K run/walk, gumbo cook off, children’s parade, merchant walkabout and bicycle ride followed by a tailgate party. Gumbo lovers can sample and judge wild shrimp gumbo prepared by area restaurants participating in the professional category.
“We invite not only our local residents but all Texans to join us in celebrating the return of Galveston Island from Hurricane Ike and take this opportunity to honor the shrimp industry in Texas,” says Mike Dean, president of Yaga's Entertainment, Inc., a local events company. "We plan on making this festival one of the largest shrimp festivals on the Gulf Coast in the years to come."
This year, the festival will limit the number of participating teams to 100 including 20 teams designated to Gulf Coast area restaurants and Texas Department of Agriculture's GO TEXAN Program members. All shrimp in the contest must be wild Texas shrimp. Attendees will taste and vote on the best shrimp gumbo of the twenty restaurants. The best in the amateur category will be decided by a panel of judges. The winning amateur team will be honored by having their championship gumbo on the menu of Yaga's Cafe in Galveston for one year. Other gumbo categories include chicken and sausage, shrimp bisque and an open division.

A limited number of Texas wineries will offer wine samples to festival attendees. "We are focusing on bringing Texas wineries to the festival as well as Texas artisans so we can showcase Texas only products,” notes Dean. “All exhibitors will have to qualify as GO TEXAN members to participate in the event.”
The Galveston Island Shrimp Festival Schedule is as follows:
  • Friday, Sept. 24, 8p.m. to 10 p.m. – Cook off Team and Sponsor Party
  • Saturday, Sept. 25
    • 8:30 a.m. – 5K run and 1K children’s walk benefitting the University Texas Medical Branch
    • 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Merchant Walk-About
    • noon to 3 p.m. – Public Gumbo Tasting
    • 3 p.m. – Little Shrimps Children’s Downtown Parade
  • Sunday, Sept. 26, 11 a.m. – Whimcycle Shrimpcycle followed by tailgate party for the Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys football game. Pre-registration is required.
For registration and more event information go to www.galveston.com/shrimpfestival.
Erin Dhonau, Yaga’s Entertainment Inc., erinbdhonau@yahoo.com, 409-770-0999
Christine Hopkins, APR, Mitchell Historic Properties, chopkins@mitchellfamilycorp.com, 409-457-1055