Serious Grillin’ Underway at Reliant Park

The world’s largest livestock show is upon us, and to kick-off the annual event, hundreds of grillers polish their culinary skills hoping for a chance at glory. Houston Public Radio’s Pat Hernandez has more on the world championship BBQ contest now underway.


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The 35th annual event at Reliant Park pits over 350 cook teams preparing the best dish in each category: brisket, chicken, pork and ribs. Donna Turner is with the HLS&R World Championship BBQ Committee. She says every year is like a celebration and a reunion of old friends.

“Last year was a record-breaking year for us. We did contribute…netted over a million dollars to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and we also had over 190,000 visitors come visit us at our bar-b-que contest. ‘Some might think that the actual food is like an after-thought…but there’s some serious grillin’ and bar-b-quein’ and’…Absolutely! I mean, like we said, it IS the World Championship Bar-B-Que contest, and so, these cook teams take it very seriously. Many of them travel around the state throughout the year  to get enough points to come out here to compete in the competition and believe me, when they win a trophy at the Houston World Championship Bar-B-Que contest, they display it proudly.”

Perennial favorites vie to repeat as champion. Gary Smith is with the team called The Goody Girls. He says there’s more to it, than just throwing a piece of meat on the fire.

“You gotta stay with it. You just can’t put it on there and walk away with it and later on come back well, it’s done, okay and that’s it . Uh-huh. I always take the temperature on it, I’m always watching it, and I stay on the pit with it. ‘How do you know it’s done?’ “I cook my brisket to about 160. And then, I wrap my brisket. And then, I take my brisket off at 200-degrees. And then, I’ll let it cool down and then, when the judges come by, then they take the slices off of it.”

Trophies are awarded in each category and awards also go to the most colorful team, team with the cleanest area and the most unique pit. Donna Turner has been a committee member for 15 years. She and the hundreds who wear the badge do so proudly, and all will tell you the satisfaction comes in rewarding the kids.

“The Rodeo contributes millions of dollars annually towards the scholarship funds to put kids of Texas through college and we feel like we’re building a base for a better tomorrow when we educate our, the children of Texas. So, the cookoff in three days last year raised over a million dollars towards that goal and we’re looking foward to repeat that if not, set a new record this year.”

Tickets are $7.00 for adults, $4.00 for children. For more information on the cook-off as well as tickets to the rodeo, go to KUHF-dot-org.

Pat Hernandez, Houston Public Radio News.” 

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