Top left, Bill Dumas, known as the Sausage Sensei, helped organize the boudin portion of the Backbone Boudin & Gumbo Festival. Top right, Cajun musician Jesse Lege will perform with Bosco Stomp. Bottom left, biographer and journalist Joe Nick Patoski of Wimberley will serve as a celebrity judge.
Bottom right, bluegrass musician Kevin Russell of Shinyribs will also serve as a
Backbone Boudin and Gumbo Festival set for March 12
This year, the bontemps of Mardi Gras gets an extension with the Backbone Boudin and Gumbo Festival Sunday, March 12 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., as many Texas favorite barbecue restaurants, pit masters and chefs will be sampling their best boudin dishes and gumbo at the Devil’s Backbone Tavern.
“It’s turning into something really unique,” said Backbone Tavern co-owner Robyn Ludwick. “It’s going to be something you won’t see anywhere else.”
The festival got its start on Mardi Gras 2020, right before the world shut down for the Covid-19 quarantine. “For Fat Tuesday, we decided to have a gumbo cookoff,” Ludwick said. “We invited the community for a five bucks entry to bring your best crock pot of already cooked gumbo. It was the most fun, old school like you would see in the 50s when the whole community shows up. That was our first clue of how important community is to the bar.”
Less than a month later, the pandemic happened, and like most things, the Gumbo Cookoff went on an indefinite pause. “That modified our event for a couple of years,” Ludwick said. “So we decided to have the same one this year.”
Then, Bill Dumas – also known as the Sausage Sensei – entered the picture, bringing a whole new dimension to the festival. “He approached me and said, ‘Is there any way to include me? I’d love to have a boudin cookoff.’” Ludwick loved the idea and gave Dumas the go ahead. In no time, Dumas brought in 18 professional boudin making teams.
“There’s supposed to be some crazy, creative boudin recipes going on,” Ludwick said. “All 18 teams are all barbecue restaurateurs. They breathe this kind of environment. The gumbo is more for your neighborly, community fun type of thing. The boudin is a cutthroat competition.”
In addition to Dumas, the festival will feature Wimberley-local author and biographer Joe Nick Patoski as a celebrity judge and frontman of the Texas-bluegrass supergroup Shinyribs, Kevin Russell as the MC.
Traditional Louisiana dance hall musician Jesse Lege et Bosco Stomp will lead a Cajun style dance from 1 to 4 p.m.
Contestants for the gumbo cookoff must arrive by 1 p.m. with their gumbo crock pot hot and ready to serve. Ludwick urges anyone wishing to compete to enter ASAP as the spots are filling up quickly. Email info@devilsbackbonetavern. com to enter. There’s a $10 entry fee for gumbo contestants.
Tickets for the festival are $10 or $20 for tasting judges. The ticket price covers tasting and judging, but all other events are free and open to the public. The festival includes Texas-based vendors representing clothing to whisky and everything in between.
“Real Ale is bringing their copper moonshine still. They’re going to have a smoked coconut whisky. It’s all Texas outfitters, whether it’s apparel or barbecue stuff.”
Due to the presence of alcohol, Ludwick encourages ridesharing and carpooling to keep all of the visitors safe.
For more information about the festival including entry rules and purchasing tickets, check the website at devilsbackbonetavern. com.