BBQ Cook off benefits toy drive

Bill Hancock
Runnels County Register

The Coal Burnin' Toy Drive BBQ Cook-off was arranged on short notice, something not often seen in competition cook offs, but that didn't stop it from being incredibly successful. The cook-off was for a great cause, the Runnels County Sheriff Dept toy drive, and brought out the Christmas Spirit, flavored with a little Texas barbecue smoke.

The contestants were in the Christmas spirit as they donated toys for the Coal Burnin' Toy Drive BBQ Cook-off. Several bicycles as well as dozens of other toys were donated to the Runnels County Sheriff's Department annual toy drive.

According to organizer Tony Flores the slots filled up quickly for the competition, held in Ballinger City Park on December 5, "We had 30 slots that filled up almost immediately and had a waiting list after that. We had a total of 17 teams show up. Some had to drop out due to COVID or other reasons."

The hands of the chef chief. Ballinger Police Chief Stan Maresch slices into brisket at the Coal Burnin' Toy Drive BBQ Cook-off in Ballinger on December 5th.

Flores said that the cook off wasn't on the schedule of events for the year, the idea only taking hold in October, "I talked to Stan (Ballinger Police chief Stan Maresch) at the Rowena cook-off. We discussed it because we both wanted to do another local event." In addition to the Rowena cook-off, Flores also organizes the "Hotter Than Hell," cook-off in Ballinger every year.

Beast BBQ took home Reserve Grand Champion honors while Parkin' Ain't Easy took home the Grand Champion plaque and bragging rights. Tony Flores (center) organized the competition to benefit the Runnels County Sheriff's Department annual toy drive.

Due to the quick organization of the cook-off, this one didn't have the sponsorships that other cook-offs Flores organizes typically have, "It came together so quickly that we didn't have time to line up sponsors. We did have a couple of people donate money. Donnie Parsons of Parsons' Heating and Air, as well as Johnny Fulton, both donated money.

Part of the entry fee for the cook-off was a $20 toy donation for the sheriff's toy drive. Flores said that the donations exceeded expectations with Derek Higgins' team, alone, donating 4 bicycles and a motorized truck, "All of the teams donated a lot of toys. They were very generous."

The Coal Burnin' Toy Drive BBQ Cook-off held in Ballinger on December 5th required a toy as part of the entry fee. The teams donated a mountain of toys, including bicycles and a battery powered motorized truck.

The toys donated formed a mountain of generosity and good will at the City Park pavilion. The toys ran the gamut from toys for babies and toddlers to toys for older children, such as the bicycles and motorized truck.

The weather cooperated with the cook-off, remaining mostly cloudy with temperatures in the 50s. The high pressure kept the BBQ smoke low over the park, evoking images of brisket and barbecue chicken dancing in peoples' heads rather than Christmas sugar plums.

The cook-off also had a decorating contest, with Rico Vargas of the Smoking Oak cooking team taking home the top honors.

Rico Vargas of the Smoking Oak BBQ team took home decoration honors at the Coal Burnin' Toy Drive BBQ Cook-off held in Ballinger on December 5th.

The event was a resounding success, a success that will benefit many children in Runnels County when they open presents on Christmas morning. Flores was asked about making the Coal Burnin' Toy Drive BBQ Cook Off an annual event, "Absolutely. We want to do this every year from now on. The generosity of the teams touched a lot of people. Next year we'll add some sponsors to help increase the payouts to the teams and bring in even more toys for the kids."

In the end, Porkin' Ain't Easy took home the Grand Champion honors, while Beast BBQ took home Reserve Grand Champion. The top 3 places for each category are included below:

Brisket: 1st- Double Ace; 2nd- Beast BBQ; 3rd- Porkin' Ain't Easy.

Chicken: 1st- Porkin' Ain't Easy; 2nd- Beast BBQ; 3rd- Show Me Your Pits;

Steak: 1st- Boom Boom Smokers; 2nd- Smokey Joe; 3rd- Beast BBQ;

Ribs: 1st- Smokey Joe's; 2nd- Smokey Joe; 3rd- Smokin' D.

Pie: 1st- Texas Smoke; 2nd- Just One More; 3rd- Smokey Joe.