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Texas High School BBQ Cook-off Back in Burnet; Iron Dawgs to Compete

The State of Texas High School Barbecue Cook-off is 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 5 at Burnet High School. The event hosts about 50 teams of the best high school barbecue cooks from across the state. Go to for more information. File photo

BURNET — The best barbecue cooks from across the state of Texas are setting up their pits in the Burnet High School parking lot this weekend.

Some of those cooks might not even have their driver’s license yet as they are all high school students. While you might think “best” is an exaggeration due to the competitors’ ages, you’d be wrong. See for yourself at the third annual State of Texas High School Barbecue Cook-off from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at the high school, 1000 The Green Mile. The awards presentation is 5-6 p.m. the same day.

These aren’t students who just play around with barbecuing and cooking; they are teens whose passion is strong for the art and science of the barbecue. The cook-off is a way for theme to celebrate what they’ve learned as Career and Technical Education students.

The state championship is the brainchild of BHS teacher and culinary arts instructor Mike Erickson and CTE teacher Brandon Evans, who saw an opportunity to allow their students and those from other schools compete as well as demonstrate their skills. This year’s competition drew 50 teams made up of five students each from high schools across the Lone Star State.

Students will compete in brisket, ribs, chicken, beans, sauce, Chef’s choice, dessert, and potato salad categories.

A side highlight of the event is that 12 of the teams will also cook on barbecue pits they or their classmates built and welded this year in their schools’ agriculture science programs. When Erickson first began laying the groundwork for the competition, he wanted something that went beyond a typical cook-off. He saw the event as a way to bring together various CTE classes and disciplines.

The culinary arts — or food production in general — draws from many aspects of agriculture and technical careers. You have the livestock side and the produce side, which serves as the backbone of the agriculture industry.

Then, there are the other components, including the people who design and build cooking units such as the barbecue pits. Of course, there are the folks who cook and present the food.

The cook-off is just as much an educational experience as it is a competition.

While the main part of the competition is Saturday, participating students will attend an educational barbecue symposium from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, May 4, at the Burnet County AgriLife Extension building.

On Saturday, the students will get things started at 6 a.m. as they pick up their meat and fire up their pits. The cooking continues until about 4 p.m. Throughout the event, there will be live music.

This year, organizers have added the Welding Challenge Exhibition in which welding programs from Texas State Technical College, Austin Community College, and Central Texas College will create a one-of-a-kind welded trophy pit to give as a prize to the high school welding team that wins the best barbecue pit competition.

It’s a great opportunity to see some of the best barbecue cooks in action. Go to or for more information.

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