In the quest to find Norman's best gumbo, the people have spoken.
On Saturday, the eighth annual Gumbo Cook-off and Zydeco Party featured 10 local gumbo cooks who were vying for the event's top prize and nearly 200 attendees who cast their vote for the people's choice award.
This year, the prize was taken home by event newcomers Brian Keough and Roy Erwin.
"We brought a duck-andouille gumbo," Erwin said. "It has more of a medium heat level to it."
Keough and Erwin dethroned last year's people's choice winner, DA Gumboman, a.k.a. Joseph Darbon.
He said he wasn't put out, however. He said the event is really about a shared love for gumbo and sharing great flavors.
"I love taking something that I love, like gumbo, and bringing it to the people of Norman," Darbon said.
Darbon, a New Orleans native, said he has brought his usual take on Louisiana cuisine since the event began in 2012.
"The people love it," he said. "They always keep coming back for more."
Other gumbo award winners included: Team Big Tomato (judge's choice), Mona's Krewe (bling award), Brent Davis (band's choice), Krewe Bogus (king cake award). Joining in the gumbo celebration were La Gumbo Ya Ya, Danielle Rogers, Brian McNeese, and Rex Stanford and Susan Stanford.
Also joining in were familiar music makers The Zydeco All-Stars. Consisting of Victor Rook, T.Z. Wright, Steve Hawkins, Smilin' Vic, Chris Christos and Armando Rivera, the band continued its annual tradition of exposing event attendees to zydeco music, a blend of Cajun accordion music and Afro-Caribbean beats.
"We're just a group of friends that come together twice a year," Rook said. "We play at the gumbo cook-off and Norman Mardi Gras parade."
Rook said the band was established about 10 years ago, and hasn't missed a gumbo cook-off or Norman Mardi Gras parade since.
"We love coming out and playing," Rook said. "We don't get to play this type of music very often, so it's a special treat not only for our fans, but also us as well."
Event organizer Julie Soper said all proceeds from the cook-off will benefit the 25th annual Norman Mardi Gras parade, which is scheduled for March 2.
"We raised over $3,000," she said. "It was our most successful cook-off to date. That money will fully fund the parade. It will help include artists, musicians and charitable organizations who may otherwise not have been able to participate in the parade."