Rain: It’s what’s for dinner.
That seems to be the menu at the annual Chisholm Trail Steak Challenge, held last weekend at the Wise County Reunion Grounds in Decatur.
Last year’s event drew about 6 inches of rain. This year, a rainy morning gave way to cool temperatures and blue skies for the afternoon of cooking and dining, and organizer Stephanie Quarles said the event wound up being “the best one yet.”
“It went absolutely fantastic,” she said. “The whole feel of it was different this year. We had a lot of families. It felt a little more laid-back.”
Quarles, principal of Decatur’s Carson Elementary, and some of her colleagues conceived the event three years ago as a fundraiser for Outside Four Walls, a nonprofit foundation set up to provide grant funds to Decatur ISD children for things like field trips. The goal is to allow every DISD eighth grader to go to Washington, D.C. in the spring.
While the fundraiser continues to grow, volunteers would still like to see what it could do with a bit of good weather.
“I think we made a little money, but I’m not positive,” Quarles said. “Someone who farms asked me if we could do this once a month, since we seem to attract rain.”
The event drew 22 teams of cooks. The first-place winner was Road Trip Inc. from Sanger – a family group made up of Allison, Brenda, Tim and John Canterbury. They took home the top prize money of $2,500.
The second-place team, Buttercup Barbecue and Racing from Ponder, earned $1,000. Morgan Hull, Alan Pierce and Shawn McCarty donated their $1,000 prize back to the foundation.
Other winners included:
- Third place: the Smoke House Rats from Justin, who took home $750. Dustin and Ashley Sanders, Joe and Kari Stump won the event the past two years.
- Fourth place: The Decatur team, Caraway Cooks, earned $500 for Gary, Eric, Jace and Cason Caraway and Rowdy Lisby.
- Fifth-place: also from Decatur, was Primewest Mortgage, with Jeff Sicking, Dean Miller, Ashley Brown and Allen Williamson. They earned $250 in their first time to enter.
Earning $250 for producing the first-place appetizer was TP and Company from Dripping Springs. Terry, Debbie and Tracy Prater turned out an appetizer they called “Yardbird Bites.”
The first-place dessert, a Chunkie Chocolate Brownie, earned $250 for Wolf Cattle Co. of Decatur. Steve Wolf, Kevin and Karen Wade donated their money back to the cause as well.
“The competition was fabulous,” Quarles said. “Brett Galloway comes every year – he’s on a Wal-Mart commercial. He didn’t make the finals, but he ended up cooking for the public.”
She said locals Andrew Rottner and Jim Nation had a team, too, and this year their sons entered a team to compete with them.
It was the high school boys, not the dads, who made it to the finals.
Quarles said about 110 more steaks were sold this year than last year, and other activities like the wine-tasting and the 5K run sponsored by the Decatur Lions’ Club also went well in spite of the rain.
And she praised the volunteers who pitched in to make things work.
“So many people step up and do really nice things – things that would completely keep it from happening if they didn’t get done,” she said. “It’s huge, like Kory Chapman bringing out the light towers with generators. So many people do things like that.”
The steak-cooking competition is sponsored by the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, with sponsorship from James Wood Motors, M s Meat and Produce of Bridgeport, North Texas Bank, iCopy, Miller Beer, AgVantage Farm and Ranch Supply and Ben E. Keith Foodservice Distributors.