The smokey smell of BBQ flooded downtown Ardmore in another record-breaking year for the United Way Valero BBQ Showdown.
The two-night fundraiser for the United Way of South Central Oklahoma, featuring Cajun food Friday night and BBQ Saturday afternoon, has grown dramatically over the years. Last year, the fundraiser brought in $138,000 from wristband sales, team entry fees and sponsorship dollars.
Executive director of
United Way of South Central Oklahoma tobi Daniel Ervin held back tears as she read the estimate for the amount raised this year — around $160,000.
“It’s a record year— it’s incredible,” Ervin told the crowd. “Thank you so much for all you’ve done — for all the teams that made this happen.”
There were 40 teams competing this year — a large amount compared to the five or six teams competing when the showdown first began in 2013.
Various awards were handed out to sponsors, including several “Diamond sponsors” that donated around $5,000 for the event and one “Double Diamond sponsor,” Stronghold Companies, that raised around $10,000.
“As you can tell by how long it took us to give out our diamond sponsorships, the sponsorships and partnerships that we have here are amazing,” said VP plant manager of Ardmore Refinery Kevin Lassahn, who was handing out awards.
And after several hours of individuals sampling various foods and voting for their favorites, the Cajun night and BBQ Showdown winners were announced.
The People’s Choice Award for best Cajun food went to Bobby Black of the Triad Controls team. The People’s Choice Award for best BBQ was a close call between Caddo St. BBQ and King Aerospace, but King Aerospace ultimately took first place.
Several of the first place winners also donated their prize money back to United Way. Lassahn said the fundraiser continues to grow every year and hopes to return with even more mouthwatering cuisine next year.
 “All the feedback is that our contractors love this community, they love the people, they love the feedback they get — they just want to come back year after year and they want to do bigger and better things,” Lassahn said.