GLADEWATER, TX (KLTV) - It's the traditional start of a classic rodeo that begins in Gladewater, the annual Chuckwagon Cook-off. It's an event filled with history and the real frontier life of the American cowboy, and the art of cooking on a open campfire.
They came from as far away as Georgia and North Carolina, to claim bragging rights as the best Chuckwagon cooks in Texas.
"We're cooking up the best chicken fried steaks you ever slapped across your lips, and the best gravy to make em slide right down," said Amarillo Chuckwagon Cook Randy Whipple. On the menu, each of the 15 teams had to cook enough chicken fried steak, biscuits, beans, mashed potatoes and peach cobbler to feed 40 people, using nothing, but period equipment and a campfire.
"Authenticity is 40 percent of your score, and then your food is 60 percent score," said Ponca City, Oklahoma Chuckwagon Cook Vance Johnson. "All the tools, this chuckwagon is a rolling museum, even dental tools to pull a cowboys tooth if they have to." Some feel more than winning, it's preserving our tough frontier heritage.
"Reliving, preserving, letting our children know what used to be the way things used to be, and what we had to do to survive," said competitor Susan Frankum of Axtell, Texas. Some had been cooking since 5:00 a.m., Saturday, all claiming they had a secret to winning.
"There is a secret , we're not sure what it is yet, but there is a secret," said Whipple.
The Chuckwagon Cook-off is the traditional start of many days of events leading up to the Gladewater Round-up Rodeo, which runs from June 10th through the 14th.