The rain might have thinned the crowds and vendors, but the smell of smoked meats wafted in the air and barbecue fanatics still turned out in droves Saturday for Hitchcock’s 47th annual Good Ole Days.
“This has really some of the best barbecue,” said Richard Young, of Cypress, who has been a judge at the festival for about 11 years.
Hitchcock’s biggest celebration meant to mark the final days of summer got off to a rocky start Saturday as a morning rainstorm created puddles around the festival’s grounds and damaged several tents.
But, while the inclement weather stopped some, more than 90 barbecue teams showed up to vie for acclaim and Hitchcock residents were content to eat good food and enjoy the slightly cooler weather.
“It’s been a tradition for a long time,” said Donnie Whitfield, of Hitchcock, who sat on barstools with his brother as the two drank beer and took in the sights. “A lot of the appeal is that family atmosphere — a lot of us all went to school together and this is like an unofficial reunion.”
Former Hitchcock mayor and postmaster Charlie Clifford started the event in 1972 and gave it its theme and title, officials said.
Many of the barbecue teams, including the Whitfield’s, have competed at Good Ole Days for as long as they can remember.
“We started coming around 1978 or 1979,” said James Daly, a Hitchcock resident.
Daly is part of a team including David Sendejas that is celebrating its last go-round before turning over operations to a younger generation, Sendejas said.
“We like it a lot, but preparing for this is just a lot now,” Sendejas said.
The annual event, sponsored by the Hitchcock Chamber of Commerce, also included a mutton busting competition and live music, among other things.
While barbecue fans were sated, this year’s edition was missing several staples that would normally draw children, such as a carnival and rides, attendees said.
“You can look and see, there are no people around,” said Wael Awar, of Texas City, who brought the food booth, Sparta Houston, to the festival.
Saturday’s event was the perfect storm of events leading to a decreased attendance, said Willie Windham, a member of the Hitchcock Chamber of Commerce and an organizer behind the festival.
“A lot of volunteers called and said they were still doing a lot of work on their houses because of Hurricane Harvey,” Windham said.
Whatever the setbacks, Saturday’s festival was still a nice respite from the week, city Commissioner Mark Cook said.
“I’ve been cooking for 10 to 15 years,” Cook said. “I just do it for fun, I don’t cook to win.”