The gathering at Hopkins County Historical Society’s Heritage Park may not have been as large this year, but the Annual John Chester Dutchoven Cookoff and Indian Summer Day and unearthing of a time capsule were successful events. Those attending shared laughs and appreciation for the variety of creative Dutchoven edibles.
A man strolled Heritage Park playing music, a few vendors offered their wears including hand-crocheted animals, paintings, jellies and home décor. A train offered tours through the park, the General Store was open for old fashioned items and deserts were offered in the bakery. Demonstrated on the grounds were old fashioned apple-butter making and pottery, archery and a woman provided artwork. Cards and card-making information were also available.
Everyone attending was asked to wear a mask and signs were posted throughout the park reminding people of the COVID-19 precaution. The cookoff featured Dutchoven cooks behind a taped off line. Instead of taking one plate or bowl to the various sites for a healthy helping of the entries, samples of each dish were provided in small containers on tables at each cook site for people to take. Each container could then be pitched in to one of the many trash barrels located every few campsites, and another picked up if seconds were desired, in an effort to limit contact between individuals, cooks and campsites.
Dutchoven entries were submitted at 11 a.m. for judging, with winners announced during the lunch hour. Prizes were awarded for 1st-3rd place, as well as best overall meat, vegetable, bread and dessert, and Best in Pot.
First place went to Margie For of Oklahoma, second to Benji Brown and third to Donnie Peters. These winners received a plaque as well as a tote bag filled with cutlery donated by Northeast Texas Farmers Coop.
Edward Etmus went home with the award for Best in Pot. His site featured chocolate pecan cobbler, sour cream and onion cornbread biscuits, country ribs and potatoes. He received a plaque for his achievement.
The Best Bread in the 2020 John Chester Dutchover Cookoff was entered by Beth Jones. Melinda Hitt’s carrot cake, which included pineapple and raisins won the award for Best Dessert 2020 Wanda Crist cooked the Best Vegetable in her Dutch oven. Lanney Wilhite, entering the contest for the very first time, won the award for Best Meat. These winners also received a plaque.