Service With Smiles

Jimmie Triska of El Campo gets his plate loaded up with some special spaghetti sauce from constables Michael Hubenak and John Szymanski during the Wharton County 100 Club Spaghetti Cook-Off in 2019, the last time the event was held. Nine local law enforcement teams return this year for another chance to win bragging rights for the best sauce. Proceeds help law enforcement to purchase life protecting equipment, provide scholarships for those pursuing a career in law enforcement and give assistance to families of local law enforcement officials who lost their lives in the line of duty. The cook-off also offers the public a chance to get to know their local law enforcement officials a little better.

The Spaghetti Cook-Off, hosted by the 100 Club of Wharton County, is back this year after being postponed in 2020 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to organizer Andy Kirkland, the event is being held once again because COVID numbers are down and many have been vaccinated.

“We wanted to give time for vaccines (to be given) and for people to feel better about being in crowds again,” he said.

The 100 Club hosted its first Spaghetti Cook-Off about 15 years ago, according Kirkland, who has been helping with the event since its inception.

“The idea was that of a deputy here who had been with Fort Bend County,” he said.

Centrally located in the county, the cook-off will be held at Crescent Hall on the Wharton County Fairgrounds Thursday, July 15.

“Crescent is a great spot to have this,” Kirkland said.

Doors will open at 4 p.m. and the meal will include spaghetti dishes prepared by nine teams representing law enforcement officers and staff in the county.

There are three teams from the sheriff’s office, a team from the jail department, administration and a ladies team. Other teams include the Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks/Game Wardens, police departments from El Campo and Wharton, the district attorney’s office and a constables’ team.

Team members must be representatives of one of the law enforcement agencies in the county.

“All we ask, is that you have to be law enforcement or related,” Kirkland said.

The event started for several reasons, including using proceeds to purchase life protecting equipment for Wharton County law enforcement officers, as well as providing scholarships for those choosing a career in law enforcement. Funds are also used to help host the 100 Club’s annual awards banquet for Wharton County personnel and to help provide assistance to families of local law enforcement personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The cook-off also brings the community together to support all departments of law enforcement in Wharton County.

“It started up so citizens and law enforcement could get together and have a good time and to show that they are just normal people,” Kirkland said.

The evening can get pretty competitive, Kirkland said. But it’s all in good fun.

“No one does competition like they do ... they will cheat, steal, lie,” he said jokingly.

Two awards are presented during the evening, one for the best spaghetti sauce and the other for showmanship.

“They take that to a different level,” Kirkland said of the showmanship portion.

Teams will serve up their savory spaghetti sauce topped over noodles starting at 5 p.m. Plates are $8 each with tickets available at the door. Tickets may also be purchased in El Campo from Susie Priesmeyer by calling 979-332-1915. In Wharton, tickets can be bought at Wharton Feed Store or Insurance Net.

A panel of six judges will weigh in on the best sauce, evaluating taste, smell, presentation and more. The panel includes County Judge Phillip Spenrath, Judge Jared Cullar (Justice of Peace Pct. 1), Donna Mikeska (El Campo Memorial Hospital), Traci Knight ( Oakbend Hospital), Russell Hill (KULP) and County Attorney Trey Maffett. Winners will be announced midway through the evening.

“This has been a great fundraiser for the club over the years,” Kirkland said. “It’s a fun time.”

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