Huge turnout in spite of three-digit temperatures
Despite the boiling heat that made Eufaula extremely uncomfortable this year, folks turned out in greater numbers than ever to enjoy the 39th Annual Whole Hawg Days festival.
“This has been one of the best,” Chamber President Jay Hunn said. “Overall, we had a lot more people in town.”
One of the most popular events in the festival, the one that started it all 39 years ago, was the pork cook-off.
The aroma of barbecue pork cooking filled the air Friday night and Saturday.
Hunn said the judges had a difficult time making their decisions about the best pork.
There were 22 entries in the 2023 Pork Cook Off, but only a handful of cooks.
If there was a category for representing the most number of businesses and individuals, Charlie Urquhart and his team would have won hands down. He cooked on behalf of Dunn’s Chevrolet, Pied Piper, Foresee/Fulkerson Family; Frontier Firearms & Frontier Tax; Mama Tigs; Mc-Quay Construction; Bank of Eufaula; T. McDonald Construction, Atwood Welding and Parker Drilling.
Lee Wallace represented Farmers State Bank, Community Culture Church, Wampler Ford and Murry Carpet.
He and his crew took home the most trophies, capturing the first place prize of $1,200 for Murry Carpet; third place prize of $225 for Farmers State Bank; a $200 prize for Best Ribs for Murry Carpet and $200 for the best Mystery Meat (pigs feet) for Community Culture Church.
Chefs Chase Shatswell and Windle Ballard and their crew came in second, representing Cardinal Towing. They won $500.
Eddie Hartwick, chef for Epworth Villa, a high-end retirement community in Oklahoma City, and Robert Campbell were back this year to judge the competition.
The competition was tough, but the meat was tender.
Campbell noted that the temperatures outside were extremely high, which affects the cooking process.
“It’s hard to control the temperature with the heat we had overnight,” Campbell said. “It’s easy to make it too dry, and tough to make it moist.”
Overall, the ribs were darker and still tender.
“People that have asked questions are taking our suggestions,” Hartwick said. “Overall, everything was fantastic. It gets a lot better every year. The food has progressed.”
At the end of the competition, chefs treated fans to free pork sandwiches.
But pork wasn’t the only thing to attract the thousands of fans. There was the arts & crafts show and carnival rides; the car show; the rodeo; cruise night and the poker run.
Whole Hawg Poker Run
According to figures released by the Eufaula Chamber of Commerce, 453 teams took part in the annual poker run which awards thousands of dollars in prize money. The count was up by 110 from 343 last year.
Stephen Kirk, from Tuttle, had the luck of the draw this year and took home a check for $15,840.
“This is my seventh year to enter,” Kirk said. “I kept telling my team, we are winning it this year.”
And they did. Second place of $5,940 went to Ty Burnett.
Jake McNatt was the 3rd place winner, taking home a check for $3,168.
“It was an amazing day. We had a great turnout for the poker run and all of the events. We are grateful for all of the support for the Chamber and for all of our businesses,” Chamber Executive Director Serina Kleveter said.
Whole Hawg Car Show
Always a popular event at the annual festival is the Whole Hawg Car Show.
Classics, chrome and cash combined to make the show a hit again this year.
Antique and classic cars were proudly parked at Kiwanis Park on Saturday. The park was full of everything from classic cars to rebuilt antiques to cars in the middle of being rebuilt.
There were cash drawings every hour throughout the day and awards in best of show and people’s choice.
“We come down from Edmond every year. Our favorite part is the car show. These guys have some classics. We love to look at them and hopefully, one day, I will have my own car sitting here,” Marcus West said.
EIC and Under One Roof
Downtown wasn’t the only place with action over the weekend. Down by the lake the Eufaula Indian Community sponsored the EIC Youth Mushball tournament. The young and the young at heart enjoyed the event.
Whole Hawg and local visitors also made their way to the east side of town to find a bargain.
There were plenty of good deals to be found at the Under One Roof yard sale.
“It was wonderful all day long. We did over $3,300 in sales. That will go a long way to help,” Kim Woodruff, director of Under One Roof said.