Entries being accepted for 37th Annual Stew Contest

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

July 18, 2007 - The Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce has already started taking entries for the 37th Annual World Champion Hopkins County Stew Contest, which should be the biggest attraction in Sulphur Springs during the annual Hopkins County Fall Festival.

The stew contest is also the Chamber of Commerce's biggest event of the year. It takes dozens of volunteers to put on the show, which attracts hundreds of contestants and thousands people to sample the 12,000 gallons or so of stew prepared at the annual cook-off on the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center grounds.

As always, the championship will be decided on the last day of the Hopkins County Fall Festival, which falls on Saturday, Sept. 15, this year.

As always, a few rules apply:

n Those teams that competed in the 2006 World Champion Hopkins County Stew Contest have until Aug. 24 to reserve their campsite from last year. The following Monday, Aug. 27, the remaining campsites will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

n At least one of the cooks on a team must be a Hopkins County resident. A team can include up to two cooks and two helpers.

n All teams must arrange their own sponsors. Sponsors provide $125 with the official entry (or two sponsors can pay $62.50 each). Contestants receive $90 to offset the cost of ingredients, with the other $25 going to the Chamber to help with contest expenses — prizes, plaques, mailings, etc.

n Contestants must use USDA approved meat, and it must be cooked in a large cast iron pot over a hardwood fire. None of that wimpy pine or other soft wood, please.

n Contestants must prepare a dozen gallons of stew. Two quarts have to be ready by 10:45 a.m. One quart is for judging. The other is held in reserve by the contestants for potential sale at an auction of the top 7 winners, or for sale to the public. At 11 a.m., at least 10 gallons of stew should be ready for sale to the public. Spectators can purchase all-you-can-eat bowls of stew for $5.

The top prize of $500 goes to the winner of the Super Stew category, made up of past winners in the cchicken and beef stew divisions.

First place prizes of $300 go to this year's winners of the Beef and Chicken stew categories, with $150 and $50 going to the second- and third-place teams, respectively.

The Camp Site/Costume winners will receive $200, and Super Camp Site/Costume winners will receive $250.

First-, second- and third-place finishers in the competitions also receive plaques.

Entry forms can be picked up at the Chamber of Commerce offices, 1200 Houston St. More information is available by calling the Chamber at 885-6515.

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