I just came across the rules for the 2008 National Championship Chuck Wagon Cook-off that will be held in Lubbock, Texas this coming Sept. 4-7. I had wondered just what foods were supplied to the chuck wagons in these events, and about the rules on authenticity of the wagon outfits and appearance of the team members.
Here is what the event organizers supply to the cooking teams:
-Meat (cutlets for chicken fried steak), vegetables, potatoes, onions, cooking oil, pinto beans, eggs, fruit and bottled water will be furnished as basic items needed for the preparation of the meal. Any special spices or flavorings must be furnished by the wagon.
-Ice: two 20 pound bags of ice per wagon. Please request additional ice if needed.
-Water: Bottled water will be provided to each wagon. Non-potable water is available on site."
Some of the rules about the menu:
"1. Menu shall consist of: Chicken fried steak, pinto beans, potatoes (choice of method of preparation), fruit cobbler dessert and cornbread, sourdough biscuits or yeast rolls (only one bread product required). Failure to follow the prescribed menu will result in disqualification.
2. Perishable products will be refrigerated and shall be distributed Saturday morning from a
refrigerated truck on the site starting at 6:00 a.m.
3. Biscuits and pastry may be either sourdough, yeast or plain. Cornbread may be prepared in lieu of biscuits or rolls.
4. All cobbler desserts will be made only with the fruit provided by the NCSC."
At the recent "Duke of the Dutch Oven" event in Clovis, which I absolutely loved (obviously, because I keep writing about it!), there were a few jarring notes. Many of the wagons were situated so that even the most authentic appearing "camps" had cars and campers parked nearby, making photography tricky. I wanted to get pictures of the reenactment that looked like they might have been of the period, but that was made impossible when there was a parking lot in the background. Some of the participants, or perhaps they were just friends allowed into the cooking area, wore baseball caps or aprons featuring modern-day advertisements. Many of my photographs show plastic milk cartons, oil jugs, and coolers.
Here are some examples. The following photos show the parking lot problem, plastic milk and oil jugs, and one of the aprons with an advertising logo.
Here are a few of the pertinent rules about appearance for the upcoming Lubbock event, quoted from their website. I would suggest that the organizers for the 2nd annual Clovis chuck wagon cook-off take a look and consider adding some of them to their own rulebook. (Italics are mine).
"All motor vehicles must be parked away from the wagons in the designated lot – no exceptions
permitted. Our volunteers will be available to assist you with directions to the appropriate area. Any vehicle parked in the fire lanes will be towed with no notice per the Lubbock Fire Marshall’s
regulations. In the interest of authenticity and to present a less cluttered look for the photographers, we ask that you cooperate with no vehicles or trailers remaining on the chuckwagon grounds after Friday night set up."
"GUIDELINES FOR [TRAIL] WAGONS
The wagon should be historically correct, authentically restored or authentic replicas, drivably sound, with wagon bed at least two sideboards high, painted or unpainted, with or without Dutch oven boot or possum belly. Wagons should be equipped with the following:
1. A complete brake system.
2. Spring seat mounted on the wagon.
3. Complete wooden tongue assembly, with tongue cap, neck yoke, or tongue chains, doubletree and singletrees, wheel wrench and stay chains.
4. One set of team harness (two horse or mule hitch) displayed on wagon tongue.
5. Four or five wooden wagon bows mounted on wagon, a canvas wagon sheet with wagon.
6. 30 gallon wooden water barrel.
7. Old style chuckbox/toolbox made with regular lumber (no plywood).
8. Campsite appearance must be authentic. Wagon must be ready to be pulled.
9. The cooks must dress historically correct including hats (no caps). All food must be cooked on site over wood burning fires.
NOTE: Expanded grates and windshields will be permitted.
10. Iron wheeled farm wagons and rubber tired wagons are not eligible to compete nor are those with an iron or pipe tongue, iron or pipe bows or with farm wagon type double tree or single trees.
SUGGESTED COOKING EQUIPMENT – Tools of the Trade
Pots, pans and eatin’ irons. Copper, brass, graniteware and case iron preferred, some old aluminum. Coffee pots and cups must be graniteware or tin. Forks, knives and spoons must be old German or nickel silver, steel, or steel with wood or bone handles, or granite enamelware. A meat saw, cleaver and clock.
Large metal cans with tight fitting lids for flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and beans. Metal cans or wooden boxes, sourdough kegs or crocks. Flour sacks for aprons and dish towels. Dish pans or small tubs, hand crank coffee grinders, Dutch ovens, pothooks and pot racks to set over fire.
Heavy hammer, single bit axe, a two-man crosscut saw, a brace and bits and a drawing knife. Water bucket, long handled dipper (tin, graniteware, or gourd) and wash pan. 30-50 gallon water barrel, kerosene lanterns, stake pins, rawhide and rope hobbles. Rope
CAMPSITE – Tents and cowboy teepees and bedrolls must be canvas. Period saddles and cowboy bedrolls should be used. You must be able to load everything into your wagon. If you cannot do this you have too much equipment."