Ardmore barbecue cook-off benefits thousands - - No One Gets You Closer

Ardmore barbecue cook-off benefits thousands

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ARDMORE, Okla. -- Did you think an all-you-can-eat Cajun barbecue cook-off couldn't get better?  It just did.

The 3rd Annual United Way BBQ Showdown is expected to raise an estimated $50,000 for charity.

"It is huge, because we are trying to help kids graduate from high school that might be at risk,"  said Tobi Ervin, executive director of United Way of South Central Oklahoma. "We are trying to help families that have had trouble and hardship move on. We are trying to help people get their citizenships, so that they can work and live legally in the United States."

Ervin said as many as 300,000 people could benefit from weekend cook-off in the five-county area her United Way chapter serves.

"This whole event is really geared toward helping people that need help the most," she said, adding that the United Way could not have made it happen without teaming up with the local Valero refinery.

"We look to partner with United Way to help us reach financially out to those organizations -- over 30 of them throughout southern Oklahoma -- to help those in need," refinery president Kevin Lassahn said.

This is more than just a barbecue cook-off for a number of reasons. Event organizer Gino Silvas helped organize this year's 24 teams.

"For $10 you can purchase a wristband and go out and sample all the Cajun food," he said. "Best Cajun food you can get in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Many of our teams come from the Gulf Coast, which is where Cajun food originated from -- Louisiana."

The BBQ Showdown at the Santa Fe Train Depot will go on until 10 p.m. Friday, featuring live music.  The event continues Saturday from 11:30 a.m. through 1 p.m., with a car show and a kid's play area.