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Lathrops 5th annual BBQ Fest Saturday
Paul Morris and Rev. Lou Davis chat about the best way to grill up chicken before the annual Lathrop Senior Advisory Commission barbecue competition. The event, which will take place on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Valverde Park from 1 to 8 p.m., is in its fifth year. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

LATHROP – Think you’ve got what it takes to be the grill master?

This weekend you’ll get your chance to put your skills to the test. 

On Saturday, the Lathrop Senior Advisory Commission and the Lathrop Senior Center will be hosting its annual barbecue competition at Valverde Park, giving amateur grillers the opportunity to show what they can do with chicken and ribs.

And when it comes to who holds the title, the score is tied. 

Dixie Cheney won both the chicken and ribs title for the first two years that the competition was held, and Slay Yo Mama barbecue – Mike Maldonado and Shae Pitts – has claimed the crown in both the last two years. 

Whoever takes the title this year (Cheney won’t be competing because of personal reasons) could either become the undisputed king of the Lathrop grill, or the newcomer on the block that could challenge the heavyweights that have knocked out judge with their unique stylings and fresh flavors. 

But it’s not all competition. 

The event is also a festival, and organizers are expecting dozens of vendors – including eight different food vendors serving up barbecue of their own – as well as hundreds of people looking to enjoy an afternoon of family fun and entertainment. 

Manteca’s GK Music will be providing three stages of live music and entertainment and will also be hosting a talent show where festival-goers will get the opportunity to show their skills before the crowd and attempt to earn bragging rights. 

Those that think they can scarf down pizza, hot dogs or ice cream faster than anybody else will get their chance during a handful of eating contests, and bounce houses – a myriad of them arranged in a park-like atmosphere – will also be on hand. 

The festival will take place on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Valverde Park, located at 15557 5th Street, from 1 to 8 p.m. Activities will take place throughout the day, and contests will be held dependent upon the number of signups and when those signups take place. 

For additional information, or to signup as a contestant, contact the Lathrop Senior Center at 209.941.7380 and ask for either Chris Lawrence or Debra Wheale.