Biloxi hosts 32nd annual seafood festival

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Thousands of people flocked to the Biloxi Town Green this weekend for the 32nd annual Biloxi Seafood Festival.

It wrapped up Sunday after having two days of beautiful weather, something they weren't so lucky with last year. Organizers say heavy rains forced thousands of visitors to leave last year's event in the middle of the day, but that wasn't the case this year.

James Booker and his family are new to the Gulf coast, hailing from the United Kingdom. Booker says he only has one complaint about south Mississippi.

"It's been great so far. We really like it. It's just a bit hot," said Booker.

According to festival organizers, the Gumbo Cook-off was bigger and better than ever. This year, they incorporated a theme competition.

Bill Leach, from Latimer, has been entering the cook-off with his family for the past six years. Leach says it's not all about winning for them. They just enjoy the fellowship it brings.

"This year, we ordered 85 t-shirts just so people could be a part of us, and then we got other friends coming, too. So it's grown from about four people in the beginning to about 85 we got just coming, being with us, and having a good time," said Leach.

The Leaches weren't the only ones making it a family affair. Just feet away, the Deschamp family was decked out in their fake beards and camouflage. Their gumbo dynasty theme was a play-off of the reality series "Duck Dynasty".

Joan Cravens, who is the mastermind behind the clever theme, says her recipe hasn't changed in more than 20 years.

"We went down and bought the shrimp off the boat, peeled the shrimp, got all the right ingredients, and I have a secret spice I put in my gumbo, and a combination of good seafood, good spices, and good company," said Cravens.

Organizers say they couldn't have asked for better weather, a better crowd, or better food.

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