Barbecue cook-off added to this year's Fall Festival schedule

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Sept. 5, 2008 - Don't like stew? Well, don't give up just yet on the Hopkins County Fall Festival.

In addition to the annual World Champion Hopkins County Stew Contest, this year's Fall Festival has a new event, a barbecue cook-off to benefit Hopkins County Relay For Life.

The Hopkins County Fall Festival BBQ Cook Off is an International Barbecue Cookers Association-sanctioned event, which kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12 and continue through 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, on the Civic Center grounds

"Anybody can cook in the event, and they are more than welcome to do that. They just pay the entry fee and set up Sept. 12," said Tony Aguilar with Relay For Life, who is coordinating the event. "This is an IBCA-sanctioned cook off so those cooks that do IBCA can score points toward state and national cook off."

Aguilar said the Fall Festival Board hosting the event to benefit Relay for Life.

"We've had lots of good feedback," Aguilar said. "I'm excited about this."

The competition will feature three main categories -- pork spare ribs, brisket, chicken -- and a fourth "50/50" pinto beans jackpot. The cost to enter will be $75 for all 3 categories, or $30 per category, except the pinto beans contest, which will be $20.

Entrants are required to participate in a mandatory chief cooks meeting at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12, at Coca-Cola Soundstage (the gazebo in front of the Civic Center). During that time, teams will be briefed on the cooking rules.

Showers will be made available to cooks, and a limited number of RV hook-up sites may also be obtained as well for the usual fee set by the Civic Center.

"Cooks can camp out in tents, or I've had a few say they'll be in the back of their truck," Aguilar said. "There will be showers available Saturday morning in Civic Center. We've got a limited number of RV hook-ups if they need one, for the Civic Center cost. The shade and showers have drawn lots of interest."

People as far away as Austin and Houston, as well as nearby areas such as Commerce, Whitehouse, Mount Vernon, Miller's Cover and Mount Pleasant, have indicated they plan to attend this year's Festival and IBCA BBQ Cook Off.

Beginning around 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, some of the sites will be opened up to the public, who can begin sampling the entries for a small fee. Proceeds from the cook off will benefit Hopkins County Relay for Life.

Some musical entertainment is slated Friday night for those planning to camp out.

All cooking must done on-site. Beans must be turned in at 11 a.m. Saturday for judging in the jackpot 50/50, with the top winners splitting the "pot" and each receiving a plaque. Judging of the chicken entries will be at noon, the ribs at 1 p.m. and brisket at 2 p.m. Judging of each category is expected to take about 45 minutes.

Winners from all categories will be announce around 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13.

Cooks planning to enter should plan to provide their team name, head cook's name, address, phone number, cell phone number and e-mail address, along with the entry fee by Sept. 12, or mail the information to Hopkins County Fall Festival Association, P.O. Box 117, Sulphur Springs, TX 75483. Checks should be made payable to Hopkins County Fall Festival.

For more information, call Tony Aguilar at 903-243-9402.

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