By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
IUKA – Iuka’s first-ever catfish cookoff combined with the season-ending Music in the Park concert is expected to draw hundreds of visitors to Iuka Mineral Springs Park on Saturday.
Throughout the summer, the IDEA organization – Iuka Development and Economic Association – has presented free concerts that have attracted local residents as well as visitors from other communities.
“People came up with the idea of having a catfish cookoff to close out the series of concerts, and we’ve been working on the idea since June,” said spokeswoman Teresa McGaughy.
Already 17 entrants have signed up for the contest, which offers a $200 cash prize for the best catfish and a $100 top prize each for the best hush puppies and the best coleslaw.
Cooks will begin setting up at 8 a.m., with all cooking done on site. Judging is from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. based on purchases by the public.
“People will buy tasting samples from the teams for $1 each, then we’ll count up the tickets for each team to determine the winners,” McGaughy said.
Cooking teams will begin selling catfish plates at 12:30 p.m., and winners are expected to be announced at 1 p.m.
Entertainers will be on stage providing background for cooks preparing their best recipes and to distract hungry customers who are waiting beginning at 11 a.m. and continuing until 5 p.m.
The entertainment lineup includes: 11 a.m.-SRX; 12 p.m.-Kaitlen Wallace; 12:30 p.m.-Esther Giles; 1 p.m.-Jon Mark Segner; 1:30 p.m.-Bria Collins; 2 p.m.-Useless Information; 2:30 p.m.-R.T. Rinehart.
“We also have a group – Jason Bumpous – coming from the Gulf Coast to be part of the show and participate with a cooking team,” McGaughy said.