The smell of smoked meats and mouthwatering barbecued deliciousness will waft through downtown this weekend as the fourth annual United Way Valero BBQ Showdown takes place.
The BBQ Showdown begins Friday evening and again Saturday morning at the end of Main Street, near the Santa Fe Depot. The cook-off is a fundraiser that benefits United Way of South Central Oklahoma and its 31 partner organizations.
“It started slow, but now it’s grown into something big,” said tobi daniel Ervin, United Way executive director. “It’s incredible to have a fundraiser like this. In this time, with our state and budget cuts, some nonprofits are suffering because lack of funding. So it’s great to have this extra revenue.”
The first year the event raised $5,000, the second year $20,000, and last year $40,000. With turnouts trending upward it’s no surprise that Ervin hopes the event will raise $60,000 or more this year.
For $10 per day, event-goers will get a wristband that gains them entry into the cook-off, and permission to sample from the 35 BBQ master hopefuls serving up grub during the contest.
Friday night’s festivities kick off at 6 p.m. and last until 10 p.m. During that time the cook-off will offer samples of cajun food and live music — featuring the band Strongwood.
Saturday morning the competition heats up as ribs, brisket, and pork butt will be cooked to perfection. In addition to live music and food, there will be a play area for kids, and a car show put on by the Blue River Car Club. The event will last from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at which point the winner of the showdown will be announced.
The winner of each meat category will win $500 and a trophy.
The United Way Valero BBQ Showdown took three months to plan, as thousands of people turn out every year. This year’s event will also feature carriage rides that act as an additional fundraiser for United Way.
“So many people have been gracious with their time and donations, we are truly blessed,” Ervin said. “We will be happy to keep feeding until the food runs out.”