Citation of Merit

Founding Fathers

Front:  Waldo Strein (blue stripe), Jim Hudgins (green). Charlie Rogers (blue), Terry Blount (tan)
Back: Tom Kennedy (red), Obie Obermark (white), Jeff Shivers (baseball cap), Doug Beich (white, beside/behind Terry), Henry Cutaia (blue, far right)

Terry Blount, Jeff Shivers, Waldo Strein

In 1988 nine (9) interested parties (Doug Beich(d), Terry Blount, Henry Cutaia (d), Jim Hudgins, Tom Kennedy, Obie Obermark, Charlie Rogers(d), Jeff Shivers, and Waldo Strein) met for the first time in Irving, Texas to discuss the possibilities of starting a new BBQ organization. We spent the first year writing a constitution, by-laws, and cook-off rules. The intent of the IBCA is to offer a set of uniform cook-off rules that are fair and “user friendly” for the cooks. In 1989 we opened up the membership in IBCA. We currently have over 1200 members.

West Volunteer Fire Department

I was asked to present this award tonight as it has a very special meaning to me. I am honored to give the Citation of Merit to West Volunteer Fire Dept.  They are an established cook off that celebrated their 25th year this year being with IBCA since 2000. Myself along with my mom Lynn have been their head judges since the beginning.  In 2000 when IBCA took over as the sanctioning body the goal was to make it bigger and better, Cody Dragoo, a Volunteer fireman and cookers was the driving factor for making the event grow.  The first year we had 137 teams it more than tripled from the previous year.

The volunteer firemen were so excited and ready to start planning the following year right then on how to make it a bigger and better event.

The big pay out and 15 places paid out per category helped grow the event over the years. They were one of the first cook offs that gave away 15 places in each category and still do today.

One of the main things West is known for are their kolaches, well guess what we had at our cook’s meetings starting the following year, I can honestly say I think every head cook was at the meeting, but not to listen to me give the cooks spill but to have a kolache.

In 2014 the cook off took on a new meaning, to honor the rebuilding of the volunteer fire dept, the fallen and injured firemen from the fatal explosion in 2013 which killed 11 firemen 6 of which were part of the West volunteer fire dept. Cody was one of the fallen firemen. With heavy hearts the remaining firemen and new recruits came together to continue this event.  Each year we take a moment to remember and letting them know we will never forget.  The funds from this cook off have helped raise monies to purchase new fire trucks and equipment for the dept.

If you have never cooked this event you should come to the small city of West, let the firemen show you’re their hospitality and compete in one of the largest prize money events. It’s an honor for me to h ask Marty Marak who is one of the surviving firemen, and fellow cooker to please come forward to accept the 2018 Citation of Merit award for all of the West Volunteer Fire Department.

Josh Kovar

On May 4, 2019 after the Bluebonnet Days Cookoff in Kenedy, TX., Josh and Candace Kovar were visiting with a team after the event.  Around 9:00 pm, one of team members went to his truck and upon returning to he group, he stated that all of a sudden he got really dizzy.  After a few minutes, the teammate began to wobble and was put in a chair.  At that time, he looked at his friends and said “Call 911”.  Immediately, Josh rushes to his truck to get his EMT bag.  While Josh was gone, the teammate starts gasping for air and is reaching out for his friend’s hand.  Josh returns and quickly hooks his electronics up to the team member.  While all this is going on two other team members, Michael Jordan and Henry Hernandez of Tres Koonyows are assisting. Michael is on the phone with 911 and Henry, (who is a respiration therapist) is assisting Josh.  Candace is there doing whatever is asked of her.

While waiting for the ambulance, the teammate quits breathing and his heart stops.  Josh quickly gets into his bag, pulls an AED out, uses it and get the heart going again.  This happens again once more before the ambulance arrives. When the ambulance arrives, Josh immediately gives the EMT crew a rundown of what happened and what he had done.  After what seemed like an eternity, the ambulance crew informs the Deputies the teammate is being airlifted.  After the ambulance leaves, Josh and Candace remain with the team to make sure everything is alright.

It is the opinion of other team members, without the quick thinking of Josh Kovar, the assistance of Michael Jordan and Henry Hernandez, their teammate would have probably died there at the cookoff.

Smokin’ On The Rio

In 2004, a group of businessmen came together with idea to help the kids by buying projects at the Rio Grande Valley Sale of Champions and started a cookoff.   This group feels 4-H and FFA organizations promote the involvement of students in the agricultural lifestyle that develops leadership, responsibility, and dedication.  Their goal is to ensure that all participants in the sale get a fair return on their livestock investment to keep them involved and invite others to join in.

It’s first year like many other 1st time events, it didn’t garner much attention, but over the years it has grown to be one of the title events of IBCA.  This cookoff was one of the first, if not the first, IBCA sanctioned event in the Rio Grande Valley.  Smokin on the Rio is a state championship cookoff that is held at the Rio Grande Valley Fairgrounds in Mercedes and has attracted cooks from all over the state and even a few from out of state.   In 2016, it rivaled the San Antonio Rodeo cookoff with 248 teams.

With the increasing success of the cookoff, the group added a scholarship fund in 2014 to students pursuing vocational degrees.  In 2015, they were able to award $160,000 in scholarships and premium awards.  Since their inception in 2004, they have impacted the lives of over 15

00 students and awarded over $1.4 million.

In addition to helping the youth of the Rio Grande Valley, they have partnered with the Food Bank RGV, Inc.  The Food Bank provides a refrigerated truck and all the leftover food from the competition is loaded up and distributed to the hungry.  This year 4397 lbs. of meat provided 3664 meals.

Accepted by Chuck Sellman, Billie D Simpson, & Mark Connor.