The fifth annual United Way BBQ Showdown has raised a record amount for the organization. While figures are not yet finalized, projections place the grand total at more than $120,000. This exceeds both the $72,000 record set last year and the $80,000 goal for 2018.
 While exceeding the goal by over $40,000 is impressive in and of itself, the figure becomes even more dramatic after learning about the history of the event.
 “Five years ago some of our refinery employees decided to host a cookoff out there in the parking lot outside the refinery,” Sara Donaho Jones, community relations advisor and executive assistant of Valero Ardmore Refinery, told the crowd Saturday afternoon. “We had about ten teams and raised about $5,000, and it has just taken off from there.”
tobi daniel Ervin, executive director of United Way of South Central Oklahoma, shared her gratitude to everyone involved in making the event so successful.
“We do appreciate every single sponsor, in person, in Valero and beyond that has been involved in putting this tremendous event on year after year,” Ervin said. “We thank you. We thank all of the people that are involved in this and we invite you to come to our office and talk to us about getting involved.”
She also explained just why fundraising events like this are so important. These funds allow the United Way to continue their work for the entire community.
“Literally, thousands of families are affected in positive ways with health, education, and financial stability so that they have stronger families.”
In addition to the money raised, the event also provided the opportunity for teams from multiple states to show off their culinary prowess to the citizens of Southern Oklahoma. A panel of judges gave out awards for the best item in three different categories. M J & H took top honors for both their pork and their ribs. Stronghold Specialties won first for brisket. First place in each of these categories paid a $500 prize. Every winner donated their winnings back to United Way.
In addition to the awards, there were also two people’s choice awards that allowed attendees to vote for their favorite team. Total Safety won for best Cajun food, and King Aerospace won for best barbeque.