Scorching heat didn’t stop hundreds from getting their fill of barbecue on Saturday.
The United Way BBQ Showdown, sponsored by Valero, transformed downtown Ardmore, near the Santa Fe Depot, into a community-wide barbecue as 35 teams competed for barbecue royalty. The event, in its fourth year, directly supports the United Way of South Central Oklahoma and its partner agencies.
“It ends up being the biggest part of our entire United Way collection ability to be able to help the people we help,” tobi daniel Ervin, executive director of United Way of  South Central Oklahoma, said. “Of the money we give to our agencies, about half of it comes from Valero and that’s events like this and their generous employees.”
On a warm summer day punctuated by sunshine and heat, the event was packed with guests looking to get a taste of the smoked meats. Attendees were able to purchase a wrist band for $10, which allowed them to taste test the collection of flavors available. Songs from alternative band Elmont cut through the flavor-filled air at the event while guests perused their options.
A free car show, provided by the Blue River Car Club, and a kids’ zone were available adjacent to the barbecue showdown.
The teams were judged on three different meat categories: ribs, brisket and pork butt. A line of trophies were presented during the awards ceremony, along with monetary winnings for those winning their categories.
The competition has grown each year, with this year projected to bring in more than 12-fold the funds raised during the first year of the competition.
“We had a goal of $50,000 and we exceeded that goal,” Gino Silvas, supply chain manager of Valero Ardmore Refinery, said. “With today’s sales it’s going to put us right around $65,000.”
Silvas said the event is made possible through the help of Valero employees and United Way agency’s employees, who give their time at the event doing everything from organizing the entertainment to cleaning up the area afterward.
“We started back in March,” he said. “There’s so much planning involved but we all work together.”
Ervin said she only expects the showdown to continue to grow and provide funds for the agencies that impact South Central Oklahoma.
“It makes it to where we can continue to serve close to 300,000 individuals in five counties that we serve each day,” Ervin said.