Captain Clint’s first ever Smoked Fish Dip Off last week was a resounding success, thanks to hard work by Clint Taylor and Cassie Gary who organized the county’s newest culinary competition.

Twenty-six competitors entered 27 dips, ranging from a Southwestern-themed dip with black beans and corn prepared by Judi Stokowski, to a pesto-encrusted dream offered by St. George Island artist Beth Appleton, who took first place for her creation.

Second place was awarded to Lois Swoboda for a dip seasoned with Thai condiments and Old Bay. Third place went to Jerry Hall who prepared the legendary concoction served at the Apalachicola Seafood Grill.

Fourth on the leader board was Susan Richardson, who flavored her dip with Cajun spices and lime juice; she was closely followed by Cassie Gary’s entry.

Entries were judged on taste, texture and creativity.

People’s Choice, determined by donations dropped into buckets by non-judges who tasted the various offerings, was won by Hall, with Danny Itzkovitz, owner of Tamara’s Café, a close second.

“What a fun night, huh?” said Appleton. “This is the very first time I won anything but a smile for my cooking.” She said her husband, David Harbaugh, deserved half the credit for the win.

The Dip Off was hosted by the Oyster City Brewery, and sponsored by Journeys of St. George Island and Big Fish SGI Charters.

With the money collected in voting buckets and the $10 entry paid by entrants, the Dip Off raised over $1,000 for the Franklin County Humane Society.

 “I just wanted to do something to get everybody together on a Monday night and I wanted to raise money for the shelter,” Taylor said. “I love those guys. My dogs came from there. Dogs can’t raise money for themselves. We have to do it.”

In addition to organizing the event and recruiting cooks, Taylor caught the fish used in the contest. Each entrant received about a pound of smoked fish containing mangrove snapper, king mackerel and mahi-mahi. Word has it rainy weather kept him from fishing until the last minute and he was up after 2 a.m. smoking his catch on Monday morning.

Winners received a gift bag from Oyster City, including beer glasses; signature hats and tee-shirts, and a gift certificate for some of Franklin County’s premium brew.

Winners will also have the opportunity to join Capt. Clint on next year’s fishing trip to score the raw material for the 2017 Dip Off. Because Hall took two awards, he can bring along a guest.

Winners will also receive a framed copy of the Dip Off poster signed by all winners.

To view a gallery of pictures taken at the Dip Off, go to www.apalachtimes.com. – By LOIS SWOBODA