Dave Rogers

For The Record

The Taste of the Bayou banquet is no longer an exhibition.

It’s a competition.

Restaurants, catering businesses, bakeries, food trucks and other purveyors of culinary pleasures that contribute their tasty treats to the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Jan. 22 will be going all out to win the diners’ votes this year.

“We’ve never done this before,” B.J. Hanneman, the chamber’s administrative assistant, said. “But we think it’s going to be fun.

“We’re going to have everybody vote for their favorite Taste of the Bayou bite.”

The 58th annual event begins at 6 p.m. at Bridge City Elementary School cafeteria and gymnasium.

The Gulf Coast Playboys band will play during dinner with the program beginning about 7 p.m.

Local restaurants will give out samples.

In addition to food vendors, Don Bonnin will be back again this year with a silent auction for sports memorabilia.

The family friendly event is open to the public. Tickets are $15 per person and $160 for a table of eight.

To make a reservation, call the Chamber at 409-735-5671.

Annual highlights of the banquet include the naming of the Citizen and Business of the Year, along with the presentation of the new board of directors.

Of course, Tropical Storm Harvey, made 2017 memorable. It was Hurricane Harvey when it made landfall near Corpus Christi on Aug. 25 as a Cat-4 storm, but it was a Tropical Storm with historic rains in Southeast Texas.

“This year, being a hurricane year, we’ve decided to have the non-profit citizen of the year,” Hanneman said.

“It’s Jeepers for Jesus.”

The charity, headed locally by insurance agent Scot Shafer, sponsored truckloads of relief supplies that came from all over the country. Shafer also organized volunteer muck-out and cleanup operations.

Hanneman said three entities will share the business of the year award.

“Our business of the year award is going to the City of Bridge City and the Bridge City and Orangefield school districts,” she said.

“We’re honoring them because of all we went through with the hurricane and all they did to take care of us and get us back up and running.

“Because of the area’s history with hurricanes, the powers that be knew what to do and how to get things done, how to handle things.”

While Hanneman wouldn’t reveal the identity of the Ambassador of the Year, Brandy Slaughter will be recognized with Lifetime status as an Ambassador.