It was like being on New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street for participants in the eighth annual Mardi Gras parade in downtown Waxahachie on Saturday afternoon.

Cajun music was belting out of giant speakers on Singleton Plaza, beads were flying off the parade floats to the happy crowds and the smell of authentic Cajun gumbo permeated the air against the backdrop of a crisp, cold, clear sunny March day.

A favorite event of the weekend was the gumbo contest. Judges this year were KBEC general manager Ken Roberts, Waxahachie High School principal David Nix and WHS ceramics teacher and member of the Waxahachie Odd Fellows, Carl Block.

Out of the 13 entries, Bob Browning took first place in the contest, with Teresa McNiel coming in second and Frank Kubin taking third.

“I’d say that 11 out of the 13 were absolutely wonderful,” Roberts said. “I prefer a little bit fishy, but not overly fishy – and I also like a good after burn and I also like a strong roux.”

Block noted the elements he believed were components in the winning gumbo.

“It had a perfect blend of shrimp, crawfish and oysters and it made for a wonderful flavor,” he said.

Other than local entries, three were from Louisiana, one was from Alabama and one from Indiana.

“The problem with two of the entries was that one tasted like it was made with chicken stock – almost had a chicken and dumplings flavor,” Roberts said. “And the other one was just a little too ‘tomato-ie.’ ”

The parade, sponsored by Odd Fellows and Rebekah Lodge No. 80 of Waxahachie, kicked off just north of the downtown Citizens National Bank at 3 p.m. Saturday and was led by the grand marshal, Waxahachie mayor N.B. “Buck” Jordan. The prize for the winning float went to the Waxahachie Senior Center.

Longtime Odd Fellow member and Waxahachie resident Horace Bratcher was on hand to ride the Odd Fellows float.

“I’ve belonged to the Odd Fellows for more than 60 years,” he said. “It’s a great organization and does many good things for people in need. We raise funds for scholarships for students and to many other charitable projects.”

Past president of the lodge, Sean Cagle, noted that this year marked the 150th anniversary of the presence of the Odd Fellows in Ellis county.

“And we’ve also been in the lodge building in downtown Waxahachie for 100 years,” Cagle added.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.