Another 100k and counting: United Way Valero BBQ Showdown raises $100,000

Drew Butler
Kevin Lassahn, vice president and general manager of the Valero Ardmore Refinery, announces the results of the 2020 BBQ Showdown as Daela Echols, executive director of United way of South Central Oklahoma, and Gino Silvas, Valero supply chain execution manager, look on.
Cars line up at Regional Park to drive through the Valero BBQ Showdown on Saturday. The event saw around 500 vehicles both Friday evening and Saturday.

The seventh annual United Way Valero BBQ Showdown took place over the weekend, and ended up raising close to $100,000 according to initial preliminary totals. As in years past, the event began on Friday evening with Cajun Night and continued on Saturday with the showdown.

This year’s event, however, was a little different with a new location at Regional Park and a new drive through procedure due to concerns about COVID-19. Despite the changes, around 475 vehicles came through on Friday and approximately 500 came through on Saturday before event organizers shut the gates because the vendors/contestants were running out of food.

Event organizer Sara Jones, Valero Ardmore community relations advisor, said they were thrilled with the response and excitement for this year's showdown.

“We went into this not really knowing what to expect,” she said. “Our initial goal was to have a minimum of 20 teams and we ended up with 30. They came from all over, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.”

She said attendance from the public also exceeded expectations.

“It’s been such a diverse group of attendees which has been really cool to see,” Jones said. “We wondered who would show up to this type of event, but it’s been every type of person you can think of from all different backgrounds.”

Kevin Lassahn, vice president and general manager of Valero Ardmore, took to the stage to hand out trophies to the winning teams and addressed everyone in attendance. He pointed out the event had to be rescheduled twice from its original dates of July 10 and 11 — which ended up being the hottest weekend of the year.

“I think we ended up with a great alternative here and we were still able to do something wonderful for the community,” Lassahn said. “Think we turned out a great event that we can all be proud of being a part of.”

He also proclaimed Valero’s dedication to hosting the event and said it will be continuing into the future.

“We’re going to continue to do this event,” he said. “We’ll have challenges that may get thrown our way, but we’re going to get around them. We’re going to continue doing the right thing for the community and the right thing in support of the United Way and all they do. Hopefully, we’ll be able to be a little more interactive next year because I know you all love to have the opportunity to connect with the community and they love that, too.”