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BBQ competition at Lathrop summer festival
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• WHAT: International Barbecue Competition and Festival

•  WHERE: Valverde Park on Fifth Street in Lathrop

• WHEN: Saturday, July 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Admission: Free

HIGHLIGHTS: Barbecue competition, square dancing, face painting, live music and more.

•  TO ENTER BBQ COMPETITION: Call Lathrop Senior Center, 941-7380.

LATHROP – July is when summer really sizzles in the valley.

But the real sizzler on Saturday, July 11, will be Valverde Park in Lathrop. With about two-dozen barbecue chefs expected to turn out for the International Barbecue Competition and Festival, you won’t even need a GPS to show you the way to the Fifth Street community park. Just follow your nose and the aroma of charbroiled chicken and pork ribs will lead you to the center of Iron Chef barbecue action.

Sponsored by the Lathrop Seniors Advisory Commission in cooperation with the city Parks and Recreation Department, this summer extravaganza promises to be a hodge-podge of family-oriented food feast, fun and games galore sprinkled with a generous amount of raffle prizes organized by the Lathrop Sunrise Rotary.

A slew of area businesses are joining hands with the seniors as co-sponsors of this summer solstice celebration which, they hope, will become an annual tradition. These businesses include Delta Power Sports at Mossdale Village behind Target, Best Western Inns and Suites on North Harlan Road, Allied Waste (formerly Sunrise Sanitation) which is the private company serving Lathrop, and Famous Dave’s Real Honest Barbecue on Naglee Road near the mall in Tracy.

The organizers are expecting to have a total of 20 barbecue chef competitors “if all goes well,” said Lathrop Senior Center Manager Chris Lawrence.

Multi-faceted festival
for the whole family
This will be a multi-faceted event offering activities and attractions for everyone young and old alike.

First, there is the barbecue cook-off competition which will feature nearly a dozen “local celebrity” judges. The contest is open to all avid grill chefs. They can choose to take part in either one of two categories – chicken and pork – or both. The entry fee for just one category is $20 per person; $28 for those who want to compete in both.
“They’ll bring their own meat (to the competition) and they will be cooking for the judges only,” Lawrence said.

And, he added, if you are a contestant, “bring your own grill – those small circular Weber grills – and use just charcoal or wood. No gas grills allowed.”

That’s per the mandate from fire officials, Lawrence said. The event also needed to get the blessings of the Lathrop Fire Services.

“Everybody had been cooperative – fire, police, (director) Katie Lemons of Human Resources and Parks and Recreation,” he said.

Food prepared by the barbecue competitors will not be for general consumption of festival goers. But, Lawrence said, “we’ll have food for sale from Famous Dave’s barbecue in Tracy. We’re trying to get pre-orders right now.”

Cost for the Famous Dave’s meal is $10 each for adults; $6 for children up to age 12. For those who have a copy of the event flyer, they will be given a $1 discount. The menu will consist of Famous Dave’s barbecued ribs or chicken, homemade potato salad, roll, corn and cole slaw. Drinks will be separate.

The menu will be such that “people will be able to say, this is worth ten bucks. We’re going to have big heavy plates and stuff them,” promised Lawrence.

Famous Dave’s is donating all the barbecued meat, he said. The food will be served at the Senior Center where advance tickets can be obtained. Tickets also will be available the day of the event. There will be ticket booths inside the Senior Center as well as outside.

Live music, Power Sports
face painting
and more in the park
While food is being served and the barbecue competition is going on, festival goers will be able to enjoy the day’s other activities. These include square dancing, musical entertainments by local talents, face painting for kids, demonstrations of “green efficient scooters” courtesy of Delta Power Sports in Lathrop, an antique fire truck display, and raffles galore conducted by the Lathrop Sunrise Rotary. Raffle tickets will be sold the day of the event.

Admission to the festival is free. “There is no charge for people to come to the event. Their only cost will be whatever food they decide to have,” Lawrence said.

He said the seniors advisory commission decided to hold a “barbecue format” summer festival fund-raiser because barbecuing is all the rage today.

“But that’s only half the truth. The other truth is that we want to set up an annual event that we can be proud of with live music and demonstrations, and hopefully utilizing this beautiful park as the venue,” Lawrence said.

The festival committee is headed by the Rev. Lucius Davis who is the chairman of the seniors’ advisory commission.

Commission member George Jackson said all proceeds from this fund-raiser will be used for various seniors programs and activities.

For more information about signing up for the barbecue competition or to pre-order a Famous Dave’s meal, call the Senior Center at 941-7380.