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Cowboy cooks circle their chuck wagons

A historically accurate chuck wagon crew cooked up grub during the 2022 Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-off at Badu Park in Llano. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Yee-haw! The 2023 Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-off is pulling into town. The annual competition and festival is Friday and Saturday, March 31 and April 1, at Badu Park, 300 Legion Drive in Llano. Admission is free for spectators.

Get a taste of the Old West while you listen to live music by the river and watch award-winning chuck wagon crews compete for cash prizes in historical authenticity and cowboy cooking.

Thirteen registered teams from far and wide will be dressed in their Western best and cooking up grub from their authentic chuck wagon camps. Food is prepared in dutch ovens, cooked underground and over open fires, and made using only ingredients, tools, and techniques available to frontier chefs.

Judges will decide the winners in six categories:

  • Meat
  • Beans
  • Potatoes
  • Bread
  • Dessert
  • Chuck wagon authenticity

If you want a plate of the one-of-a-kind chow, you'll need a ticket, which is $30. Call the Llano Chamber of Commerce at 325-247-5354 to reserve one.

Visitors lined up for plates of cowboy cuisine at the 2022 Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-off at Badu Park. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

“We bring in a lot of people,” said chamber representative Kim Webb. “I just sold tickets to a gentleman from Kentucky.”

This year's meal — cooked the same way as in the competition — includes chicken-fried steak, beans, potatoes, bread, and peach cobbler. It will be served at high noon that Saturday.

“It's all authentic,” said cook-off organizer Matt Hilton. “The food itself — where else are you going to get it?”

So, mosey on over to the Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-off for a taste of Texas tradition. And for even more cowboy culture, check out the Llano Fiddle Fest on the same weekend.


Thursday, March 30

Wagons arrive and set up.

Friday, March 31

Morning: Wagons must be set up.

Noon: Wagon authenticity judging (can begin earlier if the wagon is ready).


  • Authenticity judging continues.
  • Cook teams receive their food supplies.

6 p.m.: Host Wagon Dinner for wagon teams, sponsors, VIPs, and invited guests only.

Saturday, April 1

10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Live music


  • Food is sent to the judges.
  • Public meal is served (ticket holders only).

3 p.m.: Judging results are announced.

PUBLIC MEAL TICKETS: A limited number are available at $30 each. Call the Llano Chamber of Commerce at 325-247-5354 or buy them in person at 100 Train Station Drive in Llano. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Purchased tickets can be picked up on site the day of the event.

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