Record crowd expected for Saturday’s World Champion Stew Contest

By BILL ELLIOTT | Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce President

Sept. 14, 2006 -- More than 110 cooking teams have registered for the 36th annual "World Champion Hopkins County Stew Contest" which is set for this Saturday beginning at dawn.Stew Committee Chairman Keith Shurtleff and his committee have organized another great stew event, and we expect a record crowd to show up to consume the more than 1,100 gallons of this local delicacy.

We need to remind all cooking teams to have their vehicles removed from the stew grounds by 8 a.m., and remember, the Chamber parking lot is for the stew judges to use.

We want to thank the following prize sponsors for this year’s stew prizes: A.K. Gillis and Sons, Buster Paving (a Division of APAC-Texas) and Sulphur Springs Coca-Cola for providing the $500 Superstew prize; State Rep. Mark Homer for providing the $300 first place beef stew prize; Professional Land Title Co. provided the $300 first place chicken stew Prize; Suddenlink Communications furnished the $250 Super Campsite/Costume prize; Mike Gilmer's Tire Town provided the $250 Campsite/Costume prize; Custom Shutters provided the $150 second place beef stew prize; Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap, Larry Milligan, Best Western Trail Dust Inn and Treva Watson provided the $150 second place chicken Stew prize. Sponsoring the $50 third place beef stew prize is Bob Weaver's Town & Country Cleaners and the $50 third place chicken stew prize is also provided by Bob Weaver's Town & Country Cleaners.

Other Stew Contest sponsors include the following: Community Bank sponsored the stew tickets; City National Bank and Alliance Bank sponsored that good ol' Hopkins County cheese; Furr's Cafeteria and Chili's Bar and Grille sponsored the crackers; Chicken Express and Piggly Wiggly sponsored the paper goods; Grocery Supply Company sponsored the stew bowls; Southwest Dairy Center and Museum sponsored the spoons; Ag Power provided the utility vehicles; and Ocean Spray and Advantage Copy Systems co-sponsored the stew ladles for the cooking teams.

Ticket booths will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday and there will be "roving" ticket sellers who will be available at 9. Cooking teams will need to bring their stew samples to the Judges’ Tent at 10:45 a.m.

At 10:45, Service Tents will open, and cooks can begin serving stew to the public at 11 a.m. There are two big service tents on the west side of the creek, and a smaller service tent across the creek on the east side near the small footbridge, where you can swap your ticket for a bowl, spoon, cheese and crackers, then go to any stew site you wish for your stew. Drink vendors will be scattered about the grounds, and drinks are $1each, courtesy of Hopkins County 4-H Clubs.

And don't forget the AFLAC Great American Duck Race which will take place at approximately 12:30 p.m., immediately after the stew winners are announced. Tickets are $5 each for the duck race and are available in the Chamber office, any local bank, Bobby McDonald Bookeeping, Town and Country Cleaners, and Plain & Fancy Sandwich Shoppe. The winning “duck owner” will receive a check for $500, second place duck will earn $250 and third place duck pays $100. A $50 prize for the last place "lame duck" will also be paid. Duck race prize money has been provided by Scott Webb with the regional office of AFLAC Insurance. Our thanks to Sandi Wallace who chairs the Duck Race, and City Manager Marc Maxwell and Sheriff Butch Adams for their assistance with the Duck Race. Thanks again to Keith Shurtleff and his Stew Committee for organizing this year's contest.

Stew Judges for this year's contest include Leslie Rosser, Director of Sales with the East Texas Tourism Association; Yolanda Williams, Mayor Pro Tem of the city of Sulphur Springs; attorney Brady Fisher of Paris; Roger Feagley, Executive Vice President of the Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Economic Development Corp.; Tammy Feagley with Alliance Bank; Ken Mitchell and Susan Morris with Stewart Regional Blood Center; Hopkins County Court at Law Judge Amy Smith; Jerry Pierce, Hopkins County Environmental Officer; local attorney Doug Froneberger; Zach Glenn, meteorologist with TV Region 56 -- Tyler/Longview; Tonya Cooper and Denise Bain with the Ft.Gibson, Okla., Chamber of Commerce; Patsy Bolton, auperintendent of Sulphur Springs Independent School District; Bryan Neal, superintendent of Como-Pickton Consolidated Independent School District; Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap; Kay O'Dell with the NorthEast Texas Workforce Center; Nathan Hough with Conway Southern Express of Tyler; Don Patterson, County Commisioner of Precinct 3; David Penn, Cattle Raisers Association; Danny Evans, County Commissioner of Precinct 4; and local residents Stacy Patrick, James Jones, Jimmy Don Goldsmith and Randall Blakemore.

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