By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
Over 250 residents and visitors braved Saturday’s high winds to immerse themselves in the rustic sights and atmosphere of the 14th annual Chuck Wagon Cook-Off at Ute Lake State Park in Logan.
This year’s competition featured six chuck wagons and crews preparing meals using wood fires and traditional cookware, including cast iron Dutch ovens. There were wagons that came from as far away as Roundup, Mont., and Happy, Texas.
The wagons were judged on their food entries as well as Old West authenticity. All of them came adorned with amenities from the Old West including Brooder lamps, six-shooters and graniteware cups and plates.
Tickets were sold for $10 each for the different chuck wagons, and while the diners could request multiple tickets to one chuck wagon, most were given tickets to different chuck wagons at random.
“This gives a family a chance to sample the food from different chuck wagons,” Sharon Reid, cookoff coordinator, said. At each wagon, she said, “the food prepared is as unique as the chuck wagons and cooks themselves.”
Reid said this year the chuck wagons served over 280 meals of chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, beans, rolls and cobbler. There was a good turnout even with the high winds and several other events taking place in the county on the same day.
The Canadian River Renegades, a non-profit organization that promotes the Logan and Ute Lake and the Chuck Wagon Cook-Off, sponsored the event. Proceeds from the event sponsor college scholarships within the local community, Reid said.
Most of the entries were return competitors, including C4B wagon out of Amarillo, Texas, operated by Randy and Susan Whipple and Dexter Spalding.
“We enjoy coming back each year to Logan to compete in this event,” Spalding said. “The C4B is proud to be a part of an event where the money raised goes towards a scholarship to help a local student further their education.”
In the past, the event had been held near the entrance of Ute Lake State Park, but this year it was moved to the campground area near the beach where trees provided a windbreak and shade for the competitors and visitors.
“The new location was a nice change and the trees did provide a bit of relief from the wind,” said Tron Walters, Rising W chuck wagon, Happy, Texas.
Walters said blowing dirt added an authentic feel of the Old West to the event.
“They had to deal with the elements, more so than we do today,” Walters said. “They didn’t have the luxury of simply climbing into their cars or going inside.”
Reid said the event gives people a glimpse and feel of life in the Old West, but it also helps to bring the community together. She said the residents and visitors get a chance to socialize while supporting a scholarship for a local high school student.
Along with meal tickets, event staff members sold tickets for several raffle prizes. The prizes included a Kenneth Wyatt print that was won by Susan Laramore.