Lakewood Ranch Herald

Eighth annual Manatee County Fair cook-off provides good times while raising money for charity

PALMETTO -- The beef brisket was slowly cooking and several teams were in it to win it.

Many of Manatee County's top backyard cooks put their skills to the test in the Eighth-Annual Manatee County Fair Charity BBQ Competition, and they did it all in the name of good times and good will.

Danny Hall and Shawn Maurer grilled two different flavors before deciding on what they hoped to be the prize-winning piece, a dry Cajun spice.

For Maurer, it was his third time entering the competition; for Hall, it was a first.

"We'll definitely be back next year," Hall said.

The two-man team was hoping to raise money for the Florida Baptist Children's Home.

"We both go to First Baptist of Palmetto," Maurer said. "We just know it's a good cause."

In addition to raising money for their charity of their choice, the two men said they enjoyed snacking on the various other treats they and other teams were cooking throughout the day, such as elk, lobster, hog fish and candied-bacon.

"We've been eating all day," Maurer said.

At the end of the day, in first place was last year's first-place winners, the Eco Consultants, featuring Alec Hoffner and Chris Bryant.

In second place was the Barbeque U team, featuring Maurer and Hall.

In third place was R&R BBQ team, featuring Russ DesErmia and Roy Fairbrother.

Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant stopped by while the grilling was under way to encourage all the participants.

"What I think is great is that they all have to pick a charity ahead of time," she said. "It's a win-win."

The Geomatics Grill Team was back again this year, hoping to raise some more money for the Myakka Community Center again.

"We took second place last year, and we're hoping to win first place," team member Leo Mills said as the judging was under way. "We don't want to go backwards, but there are a lot of good cooks out here."

Despite not placing this year, the team said they had a great time. Mills was joined by fellow team members Joe Ladika and Brian Sellars as well as his son, Matt Mills.

"It was 12 teams and everybody was out here cooking appetizers, having a great time," Mills said. "You get to know a whole lot of great people."

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012

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