Two friends, Chris Wilburn and Zack Loyd decided they wanted to “do something” for veterans on Veteran’s Day 2016. That first year, the event they put on drew about 16 BBQ cooking teams and a score of diners who learned the concept of the new undertaking. Now, one year later, the concept has gained 501C3 status as Operation Victor Echo Tango with 26 cooking teams ready to go and with newly defined avenues of assistance to be offered by the monstrous fundraising effort. So plan to experience Operation Victor Echo Tango for yourself, rain or shine, on Saturday November 11, 2017 at the Hopkins County Civic Center. It’s a casual community-wide event where you are encouraged to meet and thank veterans personally while enjoying the meal and friendly atmosphere.
Besides being an all-you-can-eat BBQ feast that is free to disabled veterans and active duty military personnel, a discount will be offered to Veterans who purchase the $10 per adult on the day of the event. Cooking will start at 8 am with each team required to prepare two briskets, two racks of ribs, fifteen pounds of chicken and a side of choice. There’s also a “Jackpot Beans” contest to discover the best pinto beans that day. Judging by a panel of area BBQ business owners will take place right after 12 noon and two titles will be conferred; Grand Champion BBQ with $500 cash prize and Reserve Grand Champion BBQ with $250 cash prize. Serving to the public will begin at 1 pm. Again, it’s family friendly with kids’ tickets at $5 for those under age 12 and free for those five years old and younger. Thee will also be door prize giveaways to veterans every half-hour.
A smorgasbord of activities for youngsters will include pony rides, bounce houses, clown and magic shows and train rides. The National Guard will bring the popular Bungee Climbing Wall and an Army activity center will feature sports-themed games for youth. Live music will be provided by a Texas band, The Road Weary Travelers. Speakers will remind everyone about what Veterans Day symbolizes.
Zack, Chris and the Operation V.E.T. board of directors are keeping local needs as the focus of the fundraiser. Instead of sending a large donation to a national organization like they did last year, they plan to utilize the money to help address the needs of local veterans who could use help. Realizing that often veterans are too proud to ask for help, the funds will be placed in a reserve fund year-round to be used as local needs are discovered. Since 2016, they’ve assisted a half-dozen Hopkins County families and individuals with rent, utilities, food, travel expenses to doctors and treatments plus other specialized needs. They feel that veterans who have already paid a great price through sacrifices during military service should never be forgotten. If you have questions about Operation V.E.T. or the November 11 fundraiser, contact Chris Wilburn at 903-335-0966 or Zack Loyd at 903-243-0958.