For the Daily News
In addition to the popular Dudy Gras parade, culinary themed activities have been added to the festival including an amateur cook-off and a culinary tour of Starkville!
The Dudy Gras 5.5 Red Beans and Rice Cook-off is an amateur competition that will kick off the Dudy Gras 5.5 festivities on the sidewalks of Main Street on Friday. Teams are encouraged to enter the competition with their best Red Beans and Rice and will have the opportunity for professional chefs, as well as Starkville the community, to vote on awards such as “Best Beans,” “People’s Choice,” and “Best Decorated Booth.”
Remember, Dudy Gras celebrates the season of Mardi Gras and the opening of MSU Baseball season and the eight trips that the ballclub has made to Omaha, Neb. for the College World Series.
Contestants are encouraged to decorate their booth with Mardi Gras and MSU décor and bring team members to help celebrate. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winning teams!
Teams must provide their own pop-up tent (if desired,) tables, chairs, and extension cords. Teams may bring their dish already cooked but are encouraged to cook on-site. Electricity will be available to all teams. Teams that wish to cook on-site MUST have a fire extinguisher at booth site, per city regulations, in order to compete. Set-up begins at 12 p.m. and tasting begins at 4 p.m. just prior to the Dudy Gras 5.5 Parade at 4:30 p.m. on Main Street. The parade route will continue down University drive and will end at Left Field Lounge at Dudy Noble Field on MSU’s campus. Teams wishing to enter the cook-off should contact Robyn Cain at the Starkville Main Street Association at firstname.lastname@example.org  or 323-3322.
Following the Red Beans & Rice Cook-off and the Dudy Gras 5.5 Parade will be the 8 Days of Dudy Gras Culinary Tour in which Starkville residents are encouraged to sample special menu items and beverages at select restaurants throughout Starkville that will all feature a Cajun theme. Punch cards are available at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership offices at 200 East Main Street that patrons can take to each participating restaurant to be stamped after dining. Those that dine at 5 out of the 7 restaurants on the tour will receive free admission to the Dudy Gras 5.5 Masquerade at the Veranda Restaurant on the eight day of the tour, Saturday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 each and guests will enjoy music, appetizers, beverage specials, and a fun and festive Mardi Gras environment! Tickets may be purchased in advance at the GSDP offices or at the Veranda on February 12.
Free admission will be granted to those that have completed five of the seven spaces on the Dudy Gras 5.5 Culinary Tour punch cards.
Restaurants and dishes included on the tour are included in today's SDN Food and Fun section.