By TERRY GROOVER
After more than a year of planning, the fragrance of oak, pecan and cherry wood will soon be wafting through the air near El Reno as huge smokers are fired up to benefit a local organization that helps children.
All Fired Up For Kids is a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanction barbecue contest that is being planned for July 27 and July 28.
The event will benefit Canadian County’s Court-appointed Special Advocates program.
Debra Roberts, a CASA board member, said more than 16 cooks are expected for the event, which will be held at Lake El Reno on July 28.
Each contestant can earn points toward the Kansas City Royal and the annual Jack Daniels barbecue competitions.
This is the inaugural competition in what officials hope will become an annual tradition, Roberts said.
While the pros go at it on Saturday, cooking four types of meat — chicken, pork ribs, pork and beef brisket — young cooks will have their turn on Friday.
A kids’ barbecue competition is designed for children between the ages of 5 and 17. There will be different categories, and they will cook either hamburgers or chicken, depending on the age category.
Unlike Saturday’s competition where spectators can sample the food just as the judges do, the Kids’ Barbecue competition won’t have samples.
“There will be just enough for the judges,” said Roberts.
She said the idea is for the area residents to be exposed to some great barbecue.
Thirty professional judges are expected for the event, and more than $10,000 in prize money is up for grab.
While much of the focus will be on the smokers, there also will be plenty of other activities for the family.
She said there will be a dunk tank, coloring contest, photo booth and face-painting available.
The Canadian County sheriff office will have deputies on site, while first responders will also be available for demonstrations.
It is the only sanctioned contest within 200 miles on that date, Roberts said.
“There will be some very good cooks there,” she said.
While the competition is the big draw, Roberts said the other goal is to try and get a few more volunteers for the CASA program.
That program provides people with special training to serve as advocates for children in the courtroom setting.
Roberts said there are approximately 375 children who are in the Canadian County court system at no fault of their own. About 25 percent of those children have CASA representatives.
Roberts said it has been proven that children who have a CASA representative working with them fare better and move more quickly through the foster care program.
Training is provided.
For more information about All Fired Up for Kids, go to allfiredupforkids.org.
For information about volunteering with CASA, visit canadiancountycasa.org.