A warm Saturday at Buford Park might not have had people as much in the mood for stew as the rains did the days before, but the grounds saw another jam-packed Hopkins County Stew Contest.

A grand total of 167 teams entered the 49th annual Hopkins County Stew Contest, but only a few people were able to take home top honors.

Winners were presented in four cooking categories as well as in best campsite and costume.

The top two honors are for the Super Stew winners in beef and chicken stews. The Super Stew division is for previous winners of the regular beef and chicken categories. Those taking the top three places in these categories won cash prizes and had quarts of their stews purchased by event sponsors.

First place in the Super Stew Beef went to the team of 348 Garrett Glass and Brandon Williams. They won $500 and their winning quart of Super Stew Beef was purchased for $900.

Second place in this category was won by the team of #M-L David Joslin and Vern Hawkins. They took home $250. The second place Super Stew Beef was purchased for $500. Third place went to Tonya and James Ross, and Brent McClendon, winning $100. The third place Super Stew Beef was purchased for $300. Honorable mention went to James Clark and Zachary Clark.

Super Stew Chicken saw the team of John Mark McAfee and Bambi McAfee take first place and a $500 prize. Their winning quart of Super Stew Chicken was purchased for $900.

Second place in this category was taken by Elaine Merrell and Doris Humphrey, along with a $250 prize. Their stew was purchased for $500. The team of Steve Littlefield and James McMahan took third place and a $100 prize. Their product was purchased for $300. Dale and Marci Owens took honorable mention.

The beef and chicken open cooking categories also offered cash prizes for the top three spots with sponsors purchasing quarts of the winning product.

In beef stew, the team of John Wilburn and Rudy Ellis took top honors. They won $300 for their effort, and their stew was purchased for $600.

Second in beef stew went to Logan Vaughan and Chris Clement, winning $150. Their stew was purchased for $450. Third place and a $100 prize was won by the team of Evan Huston and Juli Long. Their stew was purchased for $250. The team of Rob Stanley and Carey Gable took honorable mention.

On the chicken side of stew, the team of  Kylie Littlefield Smith and Katey Brown took the top spot and the $300 prize with it. Their stew was purchased for $600.

In second place was the team of John Wilburn and Rudy Ellis. They took $150 for the effort. Their stew was purchased for $450. The team of Kaci Kennedy and Kaylan Bounds took home third place and a $100 prize. Their stew was purchased for $250. Honorable mention went to Jimmy Helfferich.

The John Chester Award for Super Campsite winner for a $250 prize went to Chris and Scarlett Gibbins. Honorable mention for Super Campsite and Costume went to Amanda McKinney and Darel Roach and honorable mention to Wade Juarez and Anida Reed.

Up to two cooks and two helpers were allowed for each team. Cooking over open wood fires, the teams prepared chicken or beef stew in huge cast iron pots, which can be as big as 20 or 35 gallons.

The annual stew contest, while busy, is fun for the cooks. Many of them work to participate in the campsite decoration contest as well as one or more of the stew contests. Costumes and team T-shirts are part of the fun, usually focused on the contest's annual theme, which this year was "May the Stew be with You," a spin on Star Wars.

Tickets for all-you-can-eat stew went for $6 each, and T-shirts with this year's annual theme were available for $10.

The contest had entertainment as well. Brown & Gray performed an acoustic music set from noon to 12:45 p.m. on the main Stew stage before the winners were announced.

The contest began in 1969. Its roots go back to the late 1800s when stew suppers were cooked over open wood fires, which remains a stew contest requirement.

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