Competition heats up at 4-H cooking contest

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Contenders from Holmes County 4-H cooking at the North State 4-H Cookout Contest in Winona. Pictured from left to right: Livi Howell, Tyler Branch, Lawson Nichols, Davian Powell, Jordan Brooks, John Hudson Word, Colton Howell, Hanna Hood, Tyler Diffey and Wyatt Nichols.

By Betsy Padgett
Holmes Co. Ext./4-H Agent

Montgomery County Extension hosted the North State 4-H Cookout Contest, on Tuesday, June 28, in Winona at the coliseum. Holmes County 4-H competed with nine youth in the Pork and Beef Divisions. The Pork Division was divided in to two age groups – Junior and Senior. Each child was given two, 1-inch thick pork chops to season and grill. Jewel Vandevere of Yazoo County placed 1st, Colton Howell, 2nd and Livi Howell (sister) placed 3rd. Scorecards on these three competitors revealed that only one point separated each of their placings. Call this group the “Coxburg Connection,” they are close family friends with Jewel’s grandmother being the former, Sylvia Chisolm. Each got their good pork grilling training from Jewel’s dad Bubba, Yazoo County Extension Coordinator.

The Beef Division was also divided in to Junior and Senior age divisions as well as four different categories: Prestigious Steak, Less Expensive Steak, Specialty, and Hamburger. Tyler Branch won the Senior Prestigious Steak competition with his medium-cooked ribeye; Tyler Diffey came in a close second with his rare-cooked ribeye. Hanna Hood won the Junior Less Expensive Steak by cooking a “ranch steak.”
Lawson and Wyatt Nichols placed 5th and 6th, respectively, in the Junior Prestigious Steak competition with Davian Powell coming in 10th. John Hudson Word also competed in the Junior Hamburger division with his jalapeno burgers.
Tyler Branch has been competing for a number of years – coming in 2nd last year to Tyler Diffey in the same division. He commented that he always counted on “sticking to it and good would happen.”
Hanna Hood could not have been happier – she began practicing June 6 at the county grilling workshop and practiced relentlessly at home for the next three weeks in preparation for her first 4-H “state”competition. Her coach (Padgett) and mom (Crystal Hood) were pretty excited as well.
The Cookout Contest usually provides a fun time for all – though most years it is unbearably hot, thankfully not this year. And, rarely, have there been “uh oh’s,” but, this year provided a couple of those – Bug’s grill challenged him in that the top grill was only supported on two corners – meaning in order to cook, he would have to pay close attention to balancing with his meat as he put it on the grill and turned it. He met that challenge – his T-bone was delicious and perfectly cooked (to this taster). The other, Lawson, scorched his forearm on the bottom of his grill early in the contest – he never wavered – never let on his pain until he’d turned in his steak to the judges and then, only when he was beginning to pack up – wanting to get something to put on the burn. He’d tried to cool it with his water bottle as he cooked and finished the competition. Determination and skill, two more attributes displayed by these two in the HEAT of competition.
Once again, the cookout contest was successful for Holmes County 4-H’ers – everyone had a good time, four “new-bies” got their first grilling contest behind them, the “Coxburg Connection” dominated in the Junior Pork contest, the two Tylers hit the Senior Prestigious Steak contest with a one, two knock-out punch and all of Hanna’s anxiety evaporated when her name was called for the win.

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