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Howdy-Roo serving up fun competition at chili cook-off

Howdy-Roo chili cook-off

The Howdy Roo steering committee includes Ken Jarosz (sitting, left), Melba Westerman and Fred  Westerman; Doc Kinnison (standing, left), Mike Lamb, LaDonia Starr, Craig Schlicke, Ruby Ross,  Johnny Campbell and Carrie Kinnison. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro


MARBLE FALLS — In the early 1970s, several of the local communities wanted ways to draw tourists to their towns. In Marble Falls, folks came up with the idea of holding a chili cook-off.

So on April 8, 1972, organizers hosted the first Howdy-Roo Chili Cook-off on the Marble Falls Elementary School campus. A year later, they moved it to Johnson Park, and the event took off. When the 2015 Howdy-Roo chili cook-off gets simmering, it will mark its 44th year, making it one of the oldest events of its type.

This year’s Howdy-Roo is May 1-3 at Johnson Park, 230 Ave. J South.

Officials expect 160 or more cooks. And while cooking is at the heart of the event, there’s quite a bit of showmanship as well.

Howdy-Roo wraps several events under one banner. While chili started it, barbecue has jumped on board as well.

The Chili Appreciation Society International sanctions the chili portion of the event, making it a good place to earn points toward a trip to Terlingua. The top five finishers earn an invitation to the Terlingua International Chili Championship.

This year also marks the 21st annual Lonestar BBQ State Championship at Howdy-Roo.

Local businesses can find out which one makes the best chili by entering the 18th annual Local Business Chili competition.

While the cooking competition is Saturday, folks can also enjoy a round of golf. Call “Doc” Kinnison at (830) 613-8666 for reservations or more information. Cooks can start registering for the Saturday cook-off 2-5 p.m. May 1 and 8:30 a.m. May 2.

Folks who aren’t competing but just want to check it out are welcome to wander amongst the setups, RVs and cooks in Johnson Park. One of the great things about the chili-cooking community is the members love to talk chili with everybody. And they’re always looking for more people interested in picking up chili cooking.

Turn-in for cooks begins at 11 a.m. May 2 for beans; noon for chicken; 1:30 p.m. for pork spare ribs; 2 p.m. for chili; and 3 p.m. for brisket.

While the cooking is fun — though competitive — the event and CASI-endorsed cook-offs across the country raise money for scholarships.

Whether you’re a cooking guru or just somebody who loves a good bowl of red, a stop at the Howdy-Roo cook-off, sponsored by the Highland Lakes Pod of CASI, is well worth it.

Go to for more information.