Chuck wagon cook-off scheduled for Saturday

Freedom New Mexico: Tony Bullocks Eddie Sandoval of Fort Worth, Texas, one of two judges at the chuck wagon competition, judges the Calk & Clark wagon from El Paso, Texas for the “Duke of the Dutch Oven” Chuck Wagon Cook-off.

By Keely McDowell: Freedom New Mexico

In teaching tradition, a retired educator is hoping to create a new tradition in Clovis.

The inaugural “Duke of the Dutch Oven” Chuck Wagon Cook-Off, scheduled for noon Saturday at the Curry County Fairgrounds, offers a meal and a historical experience.

Crews travel from across the region with their wagons for cooking competitions just like the “Duke” event. Saturday’s meal is historically accurate to the 1880s, with all food made from scratch and cooked in cast iron skillets.

Tickets are $15 for the lunch, with a separate 7:30 a.m. Sunday breakfast for $8. Proceeds will benefit the Miss Rodeo New Mexico pageant and miscellaneous scholarships.

The event is organized by Wilma Fulgham and Joe Rhodes of Clovis, and is being run by Jerry Slaton, who has been organizing simliar cook-offs since he retired as a school teacher 25 years ago.

More than 100 wagons descended on the fairgrounds this weekend, with passion for the western lifestyle on display. The wagons were judged Friday, with the top wagon to be announced at 4 p.m. Saturday at Joe’s Boot Shop.

Husband and wife Tom and Trisha Bright of San Angelo, Texas, are one such team. This is the Brights’ third cook-off this year.

“There is a great group (of wagons) here,” Tom Bright said. “There are a bunch of top winners.”

“Everything thing on these wagons are museum quality,” said Wayne Calk of El Paso, who joked, “Yes, even the rope is authentic.”

On a wagon he shares with friends Steve Woods of Denton, Texas, and Skip Clark of El Paso, Calk showed off family heirlooms.

Cookers can win up to $250 in prize money for having the best wagon, or for winning in each category of six foods served —meat, potatoes, beans, biscuits, gravy and cobbler.

Prize money normally doesn’t offset the costs of competing in the events, but many participants mainly take part because they love to share history.