If you never have been to a BBQ cook-off...by all means, go! You will be treated to some of the best tasting beef, chicken and pork you have ever tasted. But don't just sample the food and walk off...take the time to chat with the participants. They are extremely passionate about their craft, or as some call it, their sport. Most travel long distances to competitions, invest hundred or thousands of dollars in equipment and work tirelessly for twenty-four hours preparing and cooking their entries for judging. They are a special breed of people. When asked why they are involved in competitive cooking, quite often the answer is, "the people" or "the community of the competitors." Despite the fact it is a competition, the camaraderie and support for fellow participants is very high.
The 2nd Annual Allen Hamner Memorial Cook-off was held in Condon, Oregon during the Fourth of July week. It's far from the largest cook-off around, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for it in spirit. The organizer, Kim Ryan, is the daughter of Allen Hamner, who was Condon's pharmacist until his passing in 2005, a victim of skin cancer. The cook-off was initiated in 2006 to help raise funds for the Allen Hamner Foundation, dedicated to the awareness and prevention of skin cancer. The cook-off, sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association, will be back and looking to grow in size next year, as the Fourth of July falls on a Thursday and Condon's Fabulous Fourth celebration will draw a large number of visitors to town.