The 100 Club of the Texas Panhandle held their annual Battle of the Badges BBQ Thursday in the Glen McMennamy Livestock Building on the Tri State Fairgrounds.
“This builds fellowship between the people of the community that supports our first responders, it builds camaraderie between all of the first responders who are cooking and competing against one another,” said Dirk Swope, executive director of the Texas Panhandle 100 Club, “and it’s a fundraiser so that if the unspeakable happens, we’re able to step in and make sure that family is taken care of in their greatest time of need.”
Eight barbecue teams – the Randall County Sheriff’s Association, Randall County Sheriff’s Department, Potter County Sheriff’s Department, Panhandle Auto Theft Taskforce, Amarillo Police Department, Pantex Fire Department, and two teams from the Texas Department of Public Safety – charred, grilled, and smoked it out to see who would win the honors of best brisket and best sausage.
Even though his team won first place for their brisket last year, Len Wylie, deputy sheriff with the Randall County Sheriff’s Department, said the cookoff is not about winning.
“There’s some serious competition … but it’s friendly competition; we’ve been cooking together for lots of years … at a lot of events all through the panhandle,” he said. “It’s not so much about who wins, it’s about coming together.
“I love being here with the community. These people are what we do this for.”
Members of the community like Veta Van Zandt, who has lived in Amarillo for most of her life, was there to show her support to those she said support her every day.
“I’m here for everybody who puts their life on the line. That’s the number one thing for me. Then there’s all this good food!” she said.
Van Zandt said she comes to the barbecue competition every year.
“I haven’t had to call (them), praise God but I’m grateful that they’re there,” she said. “My heart goes out to them … it’s all in God’s hands … I’m grateful that they’re brave enough to serve us, just like our military.”
Swope said through the fundraising efforts and the financial support of the community, last year the 100 Club was able to help the families of six firefighters that were injured in the line of duty and two police officers who died on the job.
“We live in a very unique part of the world,” he said. “We are very blessed to live in the Texas panhandle with a community that still loves and respects our first responders.”