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After almost five decades in Marble Falls, Howdy-Roo cook-off could hit the road


The Howdy-Roo steering committee is looking at other site options for 2022 in anticipation of more cooks attending and outgrowing space at Marble Falls’ Johnson Park. File photo

The day after addressing the Granite Shoals City Council about the possibility of moving Howdy-Roo to Quarry Park, event organizer Craig Schlicke said the city of Marble Falls is offering the group an alternative site: Lakeside Park.

The popular chili cook-off currently uses Marble Falls’ Johnson Park.

Howdy-Roo, hosted by the Highland Lakes Chili Pod, has been in Marble Falls for almost five decades and will celebrate its 50th year in 2022. Schlicke made it clear to the Granite Shoals councilors the organization wants to stay in Marble Falls. 

“But we’re looking for an ace in the hole,” he repeated numerous times during the May 25 meeting.

Schlicke’s stance about staying in Marble Falls remained unchanged following his appearance at the Granite Shoals meeting.

“We’re looking at Lakeside Pavilion (at Lakeside Park),” he said. “I need to see if we can park enough recreational vehicles there. That is a gorgeous building and looking at the lake. I think it would be so nice to have it there, but we have to see if it’s going to work.”

Schlicke said he has a year to figure out where Howdy-Roo will be held in 2022. Relocating to Lakeside Park could draw more activities in addition to the cook-off. 

While Johnson Park has served as a great site for years, improvements to it, including new restrooms, new sidewalks, and a second playground, limit space for Howdy-Roo teams and their gear.

“That takes away 15 to 20 RV sites,” Schlicke said of the improvements. “We’re afraid of cracking the new sidewalks if we drive across them.”

Marble Falls city leaders had previously suggested Howdy-Roo move to Westside Park, but the event’s board members have been reluctant to do so because Backbone Creek tends to flood during heavy rain. In fact, rain made an appearance during this year’s Howdy-Roo weekend, and Schlicke noted parts of Johnson Park turned to mud, which made it difficult for some competitors to get their RVs out.

Quarry Park in Granite Shoals offers a large, covered pavilion along with ample parking. In March, the CASI Men’s State Chili Championship and a Lonestar Barbecue Society Cook-off were held at Quarry Park. 

“We don’t want to move out of Marble Falls,” Schlicke added, but the Highland Lakes Chili Pod is considering all options for what’s best for the cook-off and participants. 

Schlicke said Howdy-Roo is bracing for 200 chili cooks next year, up from the 126 that came this year.

“That’ll be 30 to 40 more RVs coming in,” he said. “It might be at Johnson Park again, but it’s a pain to do it there.”