United Way Valero BBQ Showdown coming to Regional Park
The United Way Valero BBQ Showdown will be returning for its seventh installment later this month. As usual, the event will take place over the course of two days with the evening of Friday, Sept. 25 being dedicated to Cajun food and Saturday, Sept. 26 dedicated to BBQ. Also, once again, all proceeds raised will go directly to the United Way of South Central Oklahoma. But everything else, from the location to the event setup, will work a little bit differently this year.
Event organizers Sara Jones, Valero community relations advisor, and Gino Silvas, Valero Supply chain execution manager, said they chose to retool the event after postponing from July due to concerns about COVID-19. This year’s showdown will now take place at Ardmore Regional Park and attendees will drive through the park and be served food without ever leaving their vehicles.
Jones said the drive will be done in a similar fashion to Festival of Lights with everyone entering the park through the east gates then following a one-way path around all of the different teams. Though it is one-way, attendees will be able to circle back to make their food selection.
“Once people get in, they’ll be able to drive around, look at all of the teams set up to see what they have, then they’ll be able to circle back and exchange their tickets for a to-go portion of food,” Jones said.
Silvas said these will be good-sized portions of food and that no one should leave the event hungry after exchanging all of their tickets. He also stressed that all of the teams will be wearing masks and gloves as they serve attendees.
This year, around 20 to 25 different teams will be participating in the event. Though down from years past, Jones pointed out this is still an amazing number of people coming out to support the United Way — especially considering many of these teams are composed of people working in the oil and gas industry.
“When you look at the economy, and when you look at what is happening to the oil and gas industry as a whole, we’ve seen dramatic financial losses and hits this year,” Jones said. “But I think it’s really cool to see so many groups that are still willing to come out and support the agency for this event.”
The United Way Valero BBQ Showdown will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. Admission is $10 per person each day which comes with five tickets that can be redeemed at any of the various teams serving food. The band Strongwood will be performing on Friday evening, so attendees can roll down their windows to listen to music on Friday evening, however there will be no place to park and exit your vehicle on either day of the event.