Texas Hobo Cook-off & Gypsy Jamboree

RUSK – Organizers of this year's Texas Hobo Cook-off & Gypsy Jamboree are looking for a few good – and hungry – men and women to help judge food contests Saturday at the Rusk KOA Campgrounds, 745 FM 343.

“We really need tasting judges,” said Willie Arnwine, the Cherokee County AgriLife extension agent who launched the event several years ago as a means of supporting the 4-H County Volunteer Leaders' Association (CVLA) of Cherokee County, which in turn supports local 4-H clubs.

“They can eat all day and leave miserable,” he laughed, adding that volunteers must be at least age 18. “All they have to do is report to the KOA community building on Saturday about 20 minutes before the posted times for any of the competitions. We'll get you fed!”

A pre-festivities event is planned for participants staying overnight Friday, with their check-in times between noon and 8 p.m. A cook's meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, later followed by a mixer from 9 to 11 p.m.

On Saturday, event check-in is from 6 to 8 a.m., with contests slated for:

• 10 a.m. – Bloody Mary

• 11 a.m. – beans

• Noon – chicken and pork

• 1:30 p.m. – pork spare ribs

• 3 p.m. – brisket

This year's cook-off features a $10,500 guaranteed purse, based on an IBCA 3-meat award scale: The grand champ receives $1,000 prize and a complimentary entry in the 2020 Hobo Cook-off; the reserve champ receives $800 prize and 50 percent discounted entry in next year's event; the Hobo King (Longest Haul) receives $300 and a 25 percent discounted entry in 2020 event.

Monetary prizes ranging from $500 to $100 will be awarded for the next 10 ranking places.

Arnwine said that so far, there are approximately 35 teams that have pre-registered, “but we won't know the full number until we get to Saturday – last time, we had 53 teams, and we're expecting the same this year.”

Registration is open until Saturday morning, with an entry fee of $200.

“Someone just needs to be in their spot and ready to cook at 7 a.m.,” he said.

Saturday's festivities also features arts and crafts, and other vendors, along with a car show.

Arnwine pointed out that the campgrounds has open areas for kids to play and for the cost of a day pass, they also can swim.

All proceeds from the Texas Hobo Cook-Off go directly to the 4-H County Volunteer Leaders' Association (CVLA) of Cherokee County.  Cherokee 4-H CVLA, a non-profit Organization, according to www.txhobocookoff.weebly.com

“The CVLA provides county-wide over-site and general financial support to the Cherokee County 4-H Program as a whole.  Through the fundraising efforts of its members,  the CVLA is working towards a goal of being able to provide a better 4-H experience for Cherokee County youth.  Ultimately, CVLA would like to be able to offer annual collegiate scholarship opportunities to all of its graduating members.  As per the 4-H motto, CVLA is always working on new ways 'to make the best better.'”

Visit www.txhobocookoff.weebly.com to learn more about the 2019 Texas Hobo Cook-off & Gypsy Jamboree.