CASPER, Wyo. — The Central Wyoming Fairgrounds were filled with the smell of fresh-cooked gumbo this afternoon, as hundreds turned out to enjoy the Wyoming Foundation for Cancer Care’s fifth annual Oil City Gumbo Cook-Off.
The foundation provides non-medical financial assistance of many sorts to people battling cancer.
“Lodging, gas assistance, groceries, you name it,” volunteer coordinator Sam Carrick said. “We’ve paid for new tires on someone’s car because they were traveling a lot for treatments. So we’ll really help in just about any way we can to alleviate people’s financial burdens while they’re going through this battle. … I always say that the people of Wyoming take care of their own.”
Despite the rainy forecast, Carrick was thrilled by the turnout, saying it was possibly the largest crowd she’s seen in the event’s five-year history.
There were 14 teams taking part in the event, with the competition split into meat and seafood categories. Awards were given to the top three in each category, as voted on by a panel of judges. Additionally, a people’s choice award was given to one team in each category, as voted on by the attendees.
In the seafood classification, local team Rouxlin Smoke took first place, with Smokin’ Hot Butts BBQ and Freedom Fuels taking second and third place, respectively.
For the cooks of Rouxlin Smoke, winning the seafood division is practically old hat at this point, as they’ve placed first in the past four consecutive events.
“It’s a great feeling,” Rouxlin Smoke’s Brenda Morgan said of the streak. “Whenever they’re announcing it’s nervewracking, but then when your hear your name called it’s very cool.”
Morgan said the secret to good gumbo is rather simple.
“My trick is lots and lots of butter,” she said with a laugh. “Other than that, you need to be patient and meticulous. You can’t just go and have a beer while making gumbo, because if you leave it for too long then you’re in big trouble.”
In the meat classification, local team Bessemer Benders was crowned champion, with Smokin’ Hot Butts BBQ finishing as runner-up again and Rouxlin Smoke finishing third.
For Bessemer Benders cook Bob Sjogren, this was his first time finishing No. 1 in the competition.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s a lot of work. I don’t do anything too fancy — [I] just use the normal ingredients and make sure I’m using the right amounts.”
Sjogren said winning the title has him eager to return next year to defend his crown.
In addition to the variety of gumbos attendees were able to enjoy, the event featured live music from a number of local bands and artists, several vendors selling a variety of wares, a beer tent, a kids’ activity area and more.