Sparta residents participate in Pigeon Forge Chuck Wagon Cookoff

by | March 8, 2018 7:15 am

Last Updated: March 8, 2018 at 1:56 pm

Sparta residents Bart Saucier (top) and Rhonda Frasier (below), along with family members like Kensley Saucier, recently participated in the old-fashioned traditions of Western style chuck wagon cooking at a cookoff in Pigeon Forge. (Photo By BOBBY MCCULLEY)

Two White County residents recently traveled to East Tennessee to participate in the timeless traditions of a chuck wagon cook-off.

On March 3, 2018, Pigeon Forge invited Western lifestyle enthusiasts, foodies, and those in search of a hearty meal to an old-fashioned Chuck Wagon Cookoff competition.

White County residents Bart Saucier and Rhonda Frasier, with Town Creek Chuck Wagon, fed the masses while participating in the traditions of Western life and cooking styles.

“Great food and the chance to observe and interact with our chuck wagon cooks makes our Pigeon Forge Chuck Wagon Cookoff not only unique but educational,” said Leon Downey, Pigeon Forge executive director of tourism. “The cook-off lets you get up close and experience something extraordinary.”

Over this past weekend, chuck wagons gathered at Clabough’s Campground, in Pigeon Forge, for a one-of-a-kind outdoor cooking event. Long before today’s modern food truck craze, the early American chuck wagons fed hungry cowboys and Western settlers on the open prairies during cattle drives. Chuck wagon cooks, or “cookies,” as they are known, rely on simple ingredients to guide their menus and fire to power their ovens.

Chuck wagon cookoffs aid in the preservation of the cattle drive trail traditions, as well as promote the authentic reproduction of the original mobile kitchens. The Chuck Wagon Cookoff competition included cash prizes for most authentic wagon and awards in various food categories, including meat, potatoes, bread, beans, and dessert.

“We were so excited to be invited to cook at this year’s (Pigeon Forge) Chuck Wagon Cookoff,” stated Frasier. “We had a wonderful time cooking. The weather was perfect, and we got to meet some great wagon cooks.”

All food items had to be prepared onsite, and participants had to use only the ingredients provided to the cooking teams. This year, the participating cooking teams prepared chicken fried steaks, beans, biscuits, potatoes, and apple pies/cobblers. At high noon, all of those who participated in the cook-off fed the visitors their traditional chuck wagon prepared meals.

While the crowd gathered to watch the cooks prepare a meal over open fires and Dutch ovens, spectators were treated to live entertainment from Andy Nelson, Marshal Andy and the Riders of the Silver Screen Band, western poetry, blacksmith demonstrations, and cattle roping techniques.

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