By TRAVIS M. WHITEHEAD
HARLINGEN — It’s all in the smoke.
That’s the secret to great spare ribs, said Tony Garza, who was also cooking chicken and fajitas for the Iron Horse Cooking Team.
“We have been cooking for the last five years so we enter as many competitions as we can here in the Valley,” said Garza.
The Iron Horse team from Edinburg was one of more than 40 teams showing their stuff yesterday afternoon at the Harlingen Police Department’s Third Annual IBCA-sanctioned BBQ Cook-Off.
They were spread across the parking lot at Bass Pro Shops along with a broad range of vendors. The smells of fresh brisket, beans and fajitas filled the air along with the sounds of live bands performing at a nearby stage.
The event was held to support Cameron County Children’s Advocacy Center/Monica’s and Maggie’s House.
And Police Chief Jeffry Adickes was delighted by the response. Some teams came from as far as Laredo and Sugar Land.
“It’s actually bigger and better this year,” he said. “It’s amazing how much interest there is in our kids in Cameron County.”
That was the clencher for many of the teams.
“That’s the main thing,” Garza said. “As long as we can compete, as long as it’s for something like this, we are 100 percent here.”
That’s one of the reasons the Smokin’ Amigos of Harlingen set up its station at the cook-off.
“Everything’s going great,” said Smokin’ Amigos cook Jesse Simental, 37.
He had been preparing brisket, ribs, chicken, beans and a fine margarita cheesecake.
“This is a great competition,” he said. “Everything seems to be running really smoothly.”
He made a comment about the heat, as did Gary Tipton, a member of the Harlingen Professional Fire Fighter’s Association.
“It’s hot but it’s a nice breeze,” said Tipton, who was busy cooking brisket, chicken, ribs and fajitas.
The FFA was partnering with Exceptional Emergency Center for the event, as it has done several times recently.
“We’ve got a great response of cooks coming together,” said Darrel Loftus from FFA.
Monica Ramirez, supervisor for Exceptional, agreed.
“I love the turnout,” she said. “This is our first competition. I don’t think it’s going to be our last. The cause is even better.”
Adickes said last year’s event garnered about $7,000. He believed more would be raised this year.