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Howdy-Roo smokes and simmers this weekend

Johnny Campbell worked the pit during the 2018 Howdy-Roo chili and barbecue cook-off. The cooks return Saturday-Sunday, May 4-5, to Johnson Park for the 48th edition of Howdy-Roo. It’s not just for cooks; anyone can come out and enjoy the cook-off, check out the vendors, and even judge. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

It always gets hot the first Saturday in May in Marble Falls when Howdy-Roo chili and barbecue cooks simmer and smoke in Johnson Park.

The event is Saturday-Sunday, May 4-5, at the city park, 230 Avenue J South, although competitors start arriving earlier in the week.

This will be Howdy-Roo’s 48th year, making it one of the oldest Chili Appreciation Society International cook-offs. Drawing at least 175 cooks, it’s also one of the largest CASI events.

The top five Howdy-Roo winners automatically qualify for the Terlingua International Chili Championship on Oct. 28-Nov. 2 in West Texas. It’s kind of a big deal.

Howdy-Roo registration is 3-5:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, and 8:30 a.m. Saturday, May 4, at Johnson Park for all competitions.

Entry for the CASI chili cook-off is $35, but Burnet County business owners pay $20. Entry for jackpot beans is $10.

The smaller Backbone Chili Cook-off takes place May 5, and entry is $20.

Howdy-Roo steering committee member and chili cook Carrie Kinnison noted it’s not all about chili. The barbecue cook-off features beans, brisket, ribs, and chicken. Cost for that is $125 no matter how many categories are entered.

Since there’s so much food and because of the number of international-qualifying spots up for grabs, officials could really use judges on Saturday to help determine winners. The only thing you need are tastebuds.

Beans will be judged at 10:30 a.m. followed by chicken at noon, ribs at 1:30 p.m., chili from 1:30-3:30 p.m., and brisket at 3 p.m. If you’re interested in judging, show up before those times or contact Kinnison at or (281) 615-2408.

Judges are needed at 12:30 p.m. Sunday for the Backbone Chili Cook-off.

You don’t have to be a cook or a judge to enjoy the show. Visitors can mingle with participants, watch as they work their magic over the pit or stove, and check out the vendors.

Howdy-Roo organizers are accepting sponsorships and donations. Proceeds from the event support the Marble Falls Area Volunteer Fire Department, Boy Scout Troop 284, and The Helping Center of Marble Falls Area.

“All of our generous local people so graciously donate to our cause,” Kinnison said. “After expenses, we divide the proceeds to our charities.”

Contact Kinnison at or at (281) 615-2408 for more information about the event.

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