Hundreds of people descended on Cathedral Gorge State park’s campground April 30 to enjoy an activity they had not been able to participate in for the last two years: a Dutch Oven cookoff. Everyone from locals to people using the campsite, and even a newlywed couple enjoying their honeymoon lined up along the tables of fresh food, ready to dig in and help determine a winner.
With 32 different dishes to sample from 28 different campsite cooks, there was something from everyone. Delicious Indian food sat right next to classic southern Louisiana Jambalaya, and after a $5 park fee and another $5 donation, anyone in attendance could get their own plate to try each dish. In addition to the food, people could put in for a raffle that included things like hats and gift cards from organizations from Lincoln County and as far away as Cedar City. For example, the Panaca Market donated a cooler and Bell Boutique donated some hairstyling supplies.
The food was categorized into main dishes, side dishes, bread and dessert. In addition to this, there was a people’s choice award, which was selected in an interesting way. In front of each dish was a small tin cup, and everyone who purchased a plate was given a single plastic coin. When people had tasted everything, they could drop their coin in their favorite dish’s cup, and the dish with the most coins won.
First place in the bread category was taken by Major Mastin, while second place was won by Spence Hill. Third place was taken by Kevin and Anne Smith, who went on to place in every category except for dessert. For side dishes, Tammy Maston took first place, while Kevin and Anne Smith took second and Suzanne Farnham took third. First place for desserts went to Ethan Mower (and his wife, Deidre), while Margaret Ann Barber took second and Aaron Wadkey took third.
The awards for the main dishes went to Kevin and Anne Smith in first, with Suzanne Farnham taking second while Paul Decannio took third. Finally, the people’s choice award went to Doug Schmitt.
With nearly 300 people in attendance, the folks in charge were amazed that so many people embraced the cookout. After having to take a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, some of the organizers believed there wouldn’t be as much of a turnout as they had seen in years past. As the objective of the cookout was just to get people out and enjoying the parks, the crew in charge called the event a massive success.
“It always helps when there’s food involved,” joked Josh Thompson, a local park ranger.
According to Jordan Adams, one of the park rangers in charge of the event, they were happy to bring this tradition back to the community. Thanks to donors like McKcrosky’s Y Service and the Mountain Mercantile, as well as Ace Hardware and Ron’s Sporting goods out of Cedar, they were able to have an event that rivaled previous years.
“We felt like we were starting over,” Adams admitted, “but a lot of people stepped up and we had a great time.”
The money earned from this event will be put towards future events, Adams said. This includes next year’s cookout, along with pumpkin painting in the fall and the many kids programs hosted at Cathedral Gorge.