Old hand back for seafood competition

Charles ”Bubba” Simmons of Santa Fe examines his rig in preparation for this weekend’s seafood cook-off competition at the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo.

Photo by John DeLapp

HITCHCOCK — Bubba and Cody were deep in thought.

The two were back in the area reserved for cook-off participants at the Galveston County Fair and Rodeo. Were they strategizing over recipes? Pondering wind directions? Thinking about the arc of the sun and how hot it would be when they fired up the pits and grills?

”We’re just dropping all the stuff off and gandering at the spot trying to figure out where we’re going to put everything” said Bubba whose given name is Charles Simmons.

His nephew Cody Stokes nodded in agreement.

Simmons is from Santa Fe and has been competing at the fair for 14 years but the layout of the Same Old Barbecue team’s area always seems to be a work in progress. Hasn’t he come up with a plan yet?

”That wouldn’t be any fun” Simmons said laughing. ”We put something different together every year.”

Aside from competing in the grilled shrimp division today Simmons and the rest of the SOBs also will see action in the fish seafood rice and gumbo categories Saturday.

It’s a true team effort too. Clayton Watkins will handle the grilled shrimp. Rich Cantu has stuffed flounder for the fish entry. Simmons is the touffe man and his father also Charles Simmons will make gumbo. Stokes is there to learn the ropes.

”I’m the head cook and I get to delegate” Bubba said. ”I’m a professional delegator. It keeps me from having to do a lot.”

The team also will be back next week for the barbecue campaigns.

Simmons has had some success at the county fair cook-offs. His best finish was second place in the chicken category several years ago. He’s philosophic about his chances this year.

”If I like it it doesn’t seem to do well” he said. ”If you turn in a really good sample you have as good a shot as anybody. There’s a lot of luck involved.”

Even before he was a competitive cooker Simmons spent a lot of time at that section of the fair.

”I’ve been coming (to the fair) since I was a teenager” he said. ”When it used to be at Runge Park I lived right across the street.

”I was only 13 or 14 and they wouldn’t let me cook in it but a friend of mine’s parents always cooked in it and I got to play fireboy. Somebody had to keep the pit hot when everybody fell asleep.”


At A Glance

The Galveston County Fair and Rodeo runs through April 21.

Spotlight events today include:

6 p.m.: Junior Breeding Beef judging

6:15 p.m.: Grilled shrimp judging

8 p.m.: Jackpot bull riding

Admission to the fair is $10 for ages 13 to 61 and $5 for ages 6 to 12 and for seniors. Children younger than 5 are admitted free.


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