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July 16 event will also decide eating champ
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LATHROP – Chris Lawrence and the Lathrop Senior Advisor Commission are once again throwing down the barbecue gauntlet.

The Lathrop Senior Center Manager and the advisory panel are currently putting out a call for anybody that thinks that their barbecue can stand up against other local competitors in the third annual “Day of Champions” event on Saturday, July 16, at Valverde Park.

Last year more than 600 people showed up for the event to see who had the best technique at the grill. It is a number that Lawrence is hoping will double this year as additional events such as eating competitions and entertainment will help draw newcomers.

“The first year we put it on it was ‘can we pull this off?’” Lawrence said. “Last year we felt a little bit better about everything but it was stifling hot, so this year we’re going to have as much shade as possible so that everybody that comes out is comfortable. I can really see this growing into a much bigger event for the City of Lathrop, and it is and always has been a family event.

“We want people that are interested in participating to call up the senior center. We still have a few spaces left.”

With two categories – chicken and ribs – grillers will all be given the same amount of time to use their skills to cook the perfect batch. All of the meat must be inspected and must be “naked” at the beginning of the competition.

And everybody will be gunning for Lathrop resident Dixie Chaney. He’s the two-time defending rib champion that entered the contest the first year on a tip from her son who was serving in Iraq at the time.

According to the Rev. Lou Davis, the event this year will be a little bit more organized than in the past two years given the knowledge gained. Even more volunteers have come forward to help make the event possible, and more than a dozen sponsors have underwritten the majority of the expenses – allowing the event to serve as a fundraiser for the activities at the Lathrop Senior Center.

While it will only be the judges that get to sample the barbecue that’s grilled up during the event, Fagundes Meats and Catering from Manteca will be on hand to serve a meal of either a rib or chicken plate that includes the entrée plus potato salad, beans, a roll, a slice of watermelon and drink for $7, or a sausage specialty meal that comes with all of the same sides, for $5. A hot dog meal that includes a hot dog, potato chips and a drink is available for $3.

The event will take place at Valverde Park on July 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sponsors that help make the event possible include the J.R. Simplot Company, Allied Waste Services, Walgreens, Home Depot, Fagundes Meats and Catering, Famous Dave’s BBQ Restaurant, Living Word Ministries, Lathrop Christian Center, Delta Power Sports, Holiday Inn Express, City of Lathrop, Lathrop Sunrise Rotary, the Lathrop Lions Club and the Service Employees International Union.

The fee to participate is $25 for either ribs or chicken or $30 for both. People can sign up by calling (209) 941-7380.