Friday evening was the opener for the annual Operation Victor Echo Tango, or OVET event in Sulphur Springs. Largely put on by a local family and sponsors, the grounds were full and the atmosphere lively in the ‘old rodeo arena’ section on the north side of the VFW grounds at 1 Veterans Drive along I-30. I arrived at sundown to discover that it looked like a tent city, with music playing, all available parking spaces filled and rows of cooking canopies already set up. Families and cooking teams were just kicking back, preparing a pre-contest evening meal, ready to share with friends and others just out strolling and taking in the festival atmosphere. To me, it felt upbeat, colorful and exciting. Cost to get on the grounds was $10, with all veterans and military personnel admitted free. According to Josh Wilburn, whose family provides the leadership for OVET, stated that it’s all for our local veterans, especially those experiencing need. The actual BBQ Cook-off would begin on the grounds at 8am on Saturday May 15, 2021. The event’s history reaches back to the ‘Hot August Nights’ annual cook-off of several years ago which was tied in with the Hopkins County Fall Festival, and the event has evolved over the past few years to an exclusive focus upon the needs of local Veterans, and a salute to their service to their country. This year it was hosted by Sulphur Springs VFW Post 8560 and the Ladies Auxiliary.
According to Josh, ‘presented by Wyatt’s Towing and Recovery, the annual “Salute the Veterans” BBQ Cook-off is back. This event is dual purposed, it is a competition but more so, an event that seeks to honor true heroes, our U.S. Veterans. The “Salute the Veterans” BBQ Cook-off was created to provide a family-friendly platform where the public is encouraged to come and help us show our appreciation for all those who have unselfishly sacrificed for our everyday freedoms.As mentioned before this is a competition; teams from across North Texas come to vie for trophies and prizes while competing in multiple categories. The public can purchase All You Can Eat (WHILE QUANTITIES LAST) tickets and sample, arguably, some of the best BBQ around. That is just the beginning of the festivities, with DJs and live music and scavenger hunts.
According to the OVET Facebook page, ‘Our mission is: 1. To improve financial concerns of veterans and/or their family. 2. To help veterans and/or their family with job placement. 3. To assist veterans and/or their family with housing concerns. 4. To assist veterans and/or their family with medical concerns that they may be facing. 5. To assist other organizations that have a similar purpose. We look to empower our nation’s heroes with needed resources. We accomplish this by assisting these veterans and their families ourselves, or by connecting them with those who can help meet their individual needs. Eligible veterans must reside within Hopkins or the counties which touch the boundaries of Hopkins County. Contact the OVET office in Sulphur Springs at: OperationVictorEchoTango.org, at 110 Main Street downtown Sulphur Springs or at 903-558-1000.