Ballinger has been riding a wave of positive energy that was kicked off by the success of the Ethnic Festival in April. The town kept riding that wave during the annual Party in the Park event last Saturday, June 29th.
The park board and the city worked to ensure that the event had all the tools it needed to be successful, “We’ve been on a good roll this year. It’s been a great year for the city and the entities that help put these events together. The Chamber of Commerce and the city worked to see that the Ethnic Festival was successful and the park board and the city worked to make this event successful,” said city manager Tommy Turney has we talked in the shade to avoid the blaring summer sun during the 98 degree heat on Saturday.
Turney said that this year the park maxed out the entries in the Hotter Than Hell BBQ cook off with 30 entries, “Tony and Jennifer Flores were the ones who did the hard work putting the barbeque cook off together. The cook off would not have been possible without them.” Every camping spot in the in the park was booked by BBQ contestants during the event. ]
The campground was thick with the aroma of smoked meats that wafted over the campground as the BBQ trailers turned out Texas’ favorite meats. There were ribs, chickens, brisket, beans, hot sauce and even margaritas for the judges to sample and score.
The Party in the Park had free events for the kids such as bounce castles, inflatable slides and free swimming at the pool.
One aspect of the event that saw a significant increase this year was the silent auction. There were over 40 items available to bid on such as autographed guitars, baskets of autographed music memorabilia, tequila, wine, jewelry and coolers along with many more items. There was no shortage of items to bid on.
Vendors were at the park selling lemonade, fresh vegetables, jams and jellies, sausage and more.
The party kicked off with the cooking teams coming in Friday and setting up. Friday evening there was a cornhole tournament at 7:30 to set the mood for Saturday.
Many locals also took part in the cook off with Robert Langston and Stan Maresch heading up their team, “Law and Water”. Jeff Smith for KRUN radio cooked with his team, “Master Basters.” The team members took turns manning the pit while passing around cold drinks. That was the modus operandi of all the teams as many had began warming their pits and putting their briskets in the smokers on Friday evening.
In addition to all of the BBQ on Saturday there was a sand volleyball and washer-pitching tournaments. The 6-person volleyball teams played hard in spite of the soaring temperatures. The city had built the sand volleyball court the week prior and situated it in an area where there was some shade on areas of it all of the time throughout the day. In all, 7 teams comprised of adults and teenagers competed on co-ed teams. Spectators sat in camp chairs around the volleyball court and enthusiastically cheered on friends and family.
Saturday evening was filled with music with a free concert. A popular local band, West Texas Funk played from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m., entertaining the attendees after a long day of sun and fun.
The festivities weren’t finished with the concert as the city put on an exciting fireworks show at the lake. Cars and trucks lined the lake camping area with over a hundred other vehicles parking along the road leading out to the lake. The exciting pyrotechnics show lasted about 40 minutes and were accompanied by loud speakers blasting rock-n-roll to the cheering crowd.
The Party in the Park will be yet another feather in the cap of the city and the park board. The members of the park board began planning in January and put in a lot of time and effort to make the event successful.
Winners of the cook off and various tournaments:
SS BBQ: SCOTT GIDEON
RESERVE GRAND CHAMPION
SPUDS BBQ GEORGE VASQUEZ and MARK HATCHER
1. SS BBQ – SCOTT SS BBQ SCOTT GIDEON
3. SMOKEY JOE
4. DOWN SOUTH OSCAR RESERVE GRAND CHAMPION
5. PORKIN AIN’T EASY
6. LAW WATER SPUDS BBQ GEORGE VASQUEZ
7. WINDY MONEY MARK HATCHER
8. DOWN SOUTH AARON
9. SHOW ME YOUR PITS
10. MEAT SLAPPERS
1. SS BB- SCOTT
2. DOWN SOUTH FRANK
3. SMOKIN’ OUTLAWS
4. WHISKEY BENT
5. GRILLIE NELSON
6. SHOW ME YOUR PITS
7. DIME BAG
9. HARDLY ABLE
10. DOWN SOUTH OSCAR
1. PORKIN AIN’T EASY
3. SS BBQ SCOTT
4. DOWN SOUTH OSCAR
5. DOWN SOUTH AARON
6. WHISKEY BENT
7. NO SHOW
8. 2 AND QUE
9. DOWN SOUTH FRANK
10. SMOKEY JOE
1. CHEAP SMOKES
2. MASTER BASTERS
1. DOWN SOUTH
1. SMOKEY JOE
1. BENNY JUAREZ
1. LUKE MOLINA / COLTON LITTLE
2. DOUG LITTLE / MARTY KEESEE
1. ROGER / PASILLAS
2. CHRIS / CHRIS
1. CONCRETE FEET