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20110218_2010-Grand-ChampionThe 8th Annual “Smokin’ on the Rio” Texas State Championship BBQ Cook-off will be held next weekend, Friday, Feb. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Livestock Show Grounds in Mercedes. The event kicks off with live entertainment on Friday night and gates opening at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Friday night will feature live entertainment from classic rock bands Par Three, Midlife Crisis and No Drama. The first band will take the stage at 7 p.m. A Pan de Campo and Carne Guisada Jackpot will be held as well with judging starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday night events are free.

On Saturday, public is encouraged to taste and judge the best BBQ in Texas including fajitas, pork ribs, chicken, brisket and beans. This year’s event will include over 130 cooking teams from all over the state. The gates will open at 9 a.m. with a cost of $5 per person to gain entry.

Judging will take place beginning with fajitas at 10 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. with brisket.

Teams with designated signs will be participating for the “Peoples Choice” Award and will sell their offerings in exchange for tickets that can be purchased at the Cook-Off Gear tent.

Saturday events will include food, drinks, craft booths, kid rides, a rock wall, fun jumps, and more. Team roping will be held all day in the rodeo arena starting at 10:30 a.m. There will be a Kids “Q” Cook-Off at noon.

Live entertainment will also be held throughout the day. The Payne Street Team will be performing at 9 a.m., Tejano/Country band Klave will perform at 11 a.m., Marshall Law will perform at 2 p.m. and a 12-piece all ladies Mariachi group will perform at 5 p.m.

The award ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. with a total of $10,000 in prize money being awarded to winners. One BBQ team will be crowned “The Best in Texas.”

Smokin' on the Rio State Championship BBQ Cook-Off was established in 2004 by a group of local businessmen with the goal of raising money in support of youth agricultural projects in the Rio Grande Valley. The profits generated from the event have been used to purchase student projects at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show's Sale of Champions. The organization promotes the involvement of students in the agricultural lifestyle that helps develop leadership, responsibility, and dedication. The goal is to insure that all students in the auction get a fair return on their livestock investment, which in turn will give them the desire to participate again and invite their friends to join them. In their seventh year they donated over $40,000 at the auction, making them the number one buyer of the entire sale for the second year in a row. In seven years the group has contributed to over 250 students with almost $300,000 going to the youth of the Rio Grande Valley.

The 2010 event yielded a record breaking 136 cooking teams from as far away as San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas and over 4,500 attendees.

For more information view their website at, find them on Facebook, or call 514-4304.

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