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API sponsoring Gumbo Cook-off

Eighteen teams will test their skills at preparing the most unique ingredients they can find -- including shrimp, sausage and even alligator meat -- in the 16th annual API Gumbo Cook-off.

This year's cook-off is Saturday at Quality Inn and Suites, with serving to start at 6:30 p.m. Karaoke music starts at 8:30 p.m.

Les Borsheim, API's gumbo committee chairman, said the most common ingredients include chicken and sausage.

"Gumbo started in the Southern states -- a poor man's stew," Borsheim said. "It was everything out of the refrigerator and thrown together. Cajun food is not supposed to be hot, but spicy."

The 18 teams are competing for the bragging rights of the first, second and third place trophies and cash prizes.

The judges will consider appearance, flavor and texture.

The American Petroleum Institute is the largest U.S. trade association for the oil and natural gas industry. The Dickinson chapter brings in speakers once a month, along with a social hour and dinner.

With increased activity in the Oil Patch, membership continues to grow.

"At our last meeting, we had the most, or at least tied for the most people attending -- 95," he said.

The Gumbo Cook-off is a way to raise money for its scholarship programs and other charities. The money is raised through the entry fees, sale of raffle tickets and admission at the door.

"Our chapter always relied on a golf tournament, but this gives us another option," he said.

Terri Thiel, executive director of the Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Gumbo Cook-off draws huge crowds to Dickinson.

"There will be lots of decorations, the hall is absolutely filled to capacity and there's every variety of gumbo you can imagine," she said. "It's a great winter event. It brings everybody out and is a good cause for college scholarships."