Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida
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Gumbo Competition Funds Youth Fishing

Captain Butch Finnigan Jr., Captain Tom Van Horn, and Jay Herrington share a passion for fishing and great food. Over a decade ago they combined their interests to create the non-profit Gumbo Wars, Inc. (formerly Gumbopalooza) to host an annual gumbo cook-off  competition that funds youth angling events.

The Gumbo Wars competition occurs every October at Fish on Fire in Orlando. Up to 30 teams compete to be crowned the crowd favorite. And with over 1,000 attendees and creative competition, it’s no small feat to win the People’s Choice Award. Thanks to ticket sales, auctions, and sponsorships, the event raises around $25,000 annually.

Gumbo Wars then invests those funds directly into fishing events for kids in central Florida. Over the course of the year, 1,000 youth learn safety, casting and rigging techniques, and the importance of conservation all thanks to gumbo. Gumbo Wars also sponsors fishing tournaments and groups like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish Orlando. In fact, despite the pandemic shutting down the 2020 competition, Gumbo Wars recently made a generous $2,000 donation to Fish Orlando via the Foundation. Fish Orlando focuses its work in Orange County on two main components: the FAB FIVE and the URBAN PONDS. The FAB FIVE are five water bodies managed for quality size fish and a unique fishing experience. The URBAN PONDS are water bodies managed for beginning anglers and those that love to eat their catch. “We’ve known about Fish Orlando for years thanks to iCAST,” said Finnigan. “It was a natural fit for us.”

Gumbo Wars hopes to return to in-person youth events in April. Follow them on Facebook for updates.

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