Chuck It

We're so hungry we could eat just about everything served up at and around the Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo

Fixin' to Hit the Stall Crawl, Y'All!

Last year, Krista Weirman, one of my New Orleans Saints buddies, invited me to participate in her third annual Stall Crawl at the Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo's Barbeque Cook-Off. Since I'm an enthusiastic eater of Texas barbecue, it sounded like a promising idea. Having never been to the rodeo, I decided this would be a good opportunity to check it out.

The Barbeque Cook-Off occupies a large outdoor area on the South Fairgrounds at the Travis County Expo center. More than 50 teams of backyard chefs from all over Texas battle it out for the titles of Best Barbecue and Highest Fundraiser. The public is invited to sample food and beverages from the different teams and encouraged to donate a tip if pleased with the product. These tip donations count as "votes" toward the goal of winning the title of Highest Fundraiser. Other categories include best brisket, yardbird, ribs, beans, Bloody Mary, hospitality, showmanship, rookie team, and most elaborate rig. All the money raised is then donated to the Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo Scholarship Fund.

Weirman says that she and her friend J.C. Hoyt devised the Stall Crawl in 2002: "J.C. had volunteered at the Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo and knew that the Barbeque Cook-Off ... raised money for the scholarship fund. We thought that would be an excellent way to network and 'do good' at the same time." They called a few friends and convinced them all to go to the cook-off together. Thus, Team VIRGIN (Very Intelligent Reprobates Genuinely in Need) was born, and the tradition of the Stall Crawl began.

Hoyt contacted with some of the cooking groups and eventually convinced the Texas Original Cookers (from Weimar) to Team VIRGIN's base camp, the place where members meet, collect donations, and distribute souvenirs and festive badges that hang from Mardi Gras beads. "We charge a $5 donation, and all proceeds go to the 'base camp' cooks as votes," Weirman explains. "Over our three-year period, we've raised over $1,000 for the scholarship fund, just for fun." In 2002, the Stall Crawl had 17 attendees. In 2003, there were 31. Last year, I was one of almost 150. "This year we're taking donations on the Web. People can register to participate or simply donate. I'm planning on doing 200 badges, and we'll have additional souvenirs," Weirman says, stressing that the event is not officially affiliated with the Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo. "I'm not even sure they know we exist. We just do it 'cause it is fun and for a great cause ... an Austin thing to do."

For more information on the fourth annual Stall Crawl, Saturday, March 19, try

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