The 15th Annual Help-A-Child Benefit was hailed by organizers as another success for children served by Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center, four local foster families and toward scholarships to be awarded to graduating high school seniors by Masonic Lodges who participate in and help put on the annual event.
Starting at daybreak Saturday, 15 teams began firing up their stew pots and smokers, preparing chili, beans, brisket, and peach cobbler to compete for bragging rights and trophies for preparing the food judged the best in each category. Teams included families, school groups, groups sponsored by businesses and Masons. The smells wafted through the air by 10 a.m., whetting the taste buds of all in the area, so that all were ready by the time the ticket and serving lines opened up to the public.
Sulphur Springs High School Culinary Arts students, sponsored by Guaranty Bank, went home with two awards. The students received the championship trophy for cooking the best pot of pinto beans at Saturday’s cook-off and their chili won second place honors in that cook-off as well.
Taking home the trophy for first place chili at the Oct. 15, 2022, cook-off were members of Rosalie Masonic Lodge #527 of Bogata. The third place chili was prepared by the Caitlyn and Colten Froneberger family, sponsored by F1 Fabricators
First place in the brisket contest was prepared by White Smoke, the Springs High School Construction Class. Second place in the brisket contest was won by the Safety Control team, with Drew Smith and Trey Clark as cooks. The third place brisket was prepared by the Hopkins County Law Enforcement team lead by Jail Administrator Kenneth Dean and prepared by the jail trusties.
Wayne Bartley was recognized for all of the Dutch over peach cobbler he prepared this time and which has continued to be a crowd favorite all 15 years of the Help-A-Child Benefit. Numerous pans of peach cobbler this year were prepared by the team of Bartley and Larry Rose, which Red Barn Café sponsored.
Also among the 15 cook teams entering this year’s cook-off were Hopkins Lodge #180, Saltillo FFA, Como-Pickton FFA, Bobby Neal Family, Bulkley Trucking. Texas Heritage, Mike Cleveland and Mike Hooten team and Jay Hodge Chevrolet. Several teams submitted entries in two or more cook-offs, but the SSHS Culinary Arts cooks were the only team that went home with more than one award.
The contest judges and representatives from the businesses that have helped sponsor the Help-A-Child Benefit all 15 years it’s been going on were also recognized.
The winners of the Ira Black FFA Shop Project Show, which featured entries from members of chapters around the county, were announced immediately following lunch. First place went to the Saltillo FFA arbor and bench. Second place went to the Sulphur Springs High School Building Trades Class’ pecan wood picnic table, and honorable mention went to Sulphur Springs High School FFA’s rocket stove.
All of those items, as well as desserts and other items donated by local youth, individuals and businesses were auctioned off Saturday. Several donated items were also awarded following a silent auction.
The first-ever Ag Mechanics Team Build Off held Friday featured 35 teams from 26 different school districts who worked together to construct a fire pit. Each brought their own tools which they used over the course of four hours to conform the furnished materials into a fire pit. Projects were then judged by Paris Junior College staff, based on quality of welding and the overall project, safety practices utilized and how well all four members of the team worked together. The top four fire pits then were auctioned Saturday, raising additional funds to benefit the children benefitting from Help-A-Child fundraiser. Each of the top teams then received a kit to construct another fire pit to raise funds for their school, if they so choose.
One of the Bonham teams also donated their project for auction to help generate more funding for the charitable causes.
Four local foster families were also recognized and presented with check for $4,000 each to help them care for the children they’ve taken into their homes, some with special health needs. Among the Foster Family of the Year honorees were the Ryan and Tiffany Bozeman family, Brian nd LaTonya Clarke family, Ron and Malcolm Lowrie family, and Jose and Kristen Mandujano family.
The Equine Pavilion Saturday also was a lively place with the annual Livestock Show beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing into the afternoon, with at least 58 showing 17 different breeds of heifers that morning, and quite a few in the steer show too.
The winner of the Ranger raffle drawing was Megan House of Sulphur Springs.
The total for the Help-A-Child Benefit has yet to be counted as some funds are still being tallied. Overall, the event was considered a success, however, in that it raised funds for children with health needs who are treated at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, those reported to have been abused neglected who are interviewed and receive services from Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center, in the four local foster families, and will help youth continue their education after graduation thanks to scholarships awarded by their local Masonic Lodge. The Lodges also are eligible to apply for a match up to $1,500 from the Grand Lodge of Texas to give in scholarships, which would at least double the amount awarded by local Masonic Lodge.
Among the Lodges participating were Sulphur Springs, Yantis Lodge #382, Commerce Lodge #439, Gus Garrison Lodge #1273 of Winnsboro, Mount Vernon Lodge #691, Caddo Mills Lodge #581, Greenville Lodge #335, Mars Hill Lodge #1440 of Emory, Columbia Lodge #81 in Sulphur Springs, Rosalie Lodge #527 of Bogata, Hopkins Lodge #180 of Cumby, Sulphur Bluff Lodge #221. Brad Billings, Grand Master of Masons in Texas was also on hand for Saturday’s Help-A-Child Benefit.
Bounce houses and a petting zoo were stationed on the Civic Center grounds for children to enjoy throughout the day. Carriage rides pulled by Clydesdale horses were also offered on the grounds as well.
Event coordinators and workers offers thanks to all sponsors for their support, as well as to the community members who came out to eat and purchase auction items, and to those who entered and helped put on the various contests.