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Danny Kennedy (right) of the Steak Cookoff Association, congratulates Pat Swindoll of Alabama, who won the ribs division of Saturday’s Magnolia State Cook Off, sponsored by the Horn Lake Lions Club and held in the Sportsman’s Warehouse parking lot in Southaven.  

On what became a cloudy, and later a rainy Saturday afternoon, barbecue wafted in the air in front of the Sportsman’s Warehouse location in the Southaven Towne Center during the day. 

The weather did not dampen the spirits of some of the top cooks around, all vying for cash prizes, but just as important, helping raise funds for the efforts of the Horn Lake Lions Club.

The club hosted its Magnolia State Cook Off in the parking lot, and organizer Dave Young said all of the 70 participants were talented in what they do.

“They are among the top-rated cooks in this area,” Young said. “Five of the teams have either won Memphis in May or Kansas City, or both. We have people coming from Ocala, Florida, Oklahoma City, Louisville, Ky., Baton Rouge and Lafayette, La., plus local guys and girls.”

The cooks were competing in steak, rib and dessert divisions and spent the morning getting the grills set up, then going to work to get the best result for the judges to taste.

Young said events like this are gaining more interest across the country.

“This is a growing event,” said Young. “The prize money is there and this is growing by leaps and bounds.”

The competition is sanctioned by the Steak Cookoff Association, based in Bedford, Texas. It holds competitions in the United States and Canada, along with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and also in Europe.

As much as the prize money was worth the work and the trip, Young said the competitors were also aiding the Lions Club at the same time.

“It’s our second largest fundraiser of the year and it’s great public relations for us,” said Young. “A lot of these people are here because of what the Lions do to help. They’re here to support the Lions Club.”

Among the projects the Lions service organization is known for is the collections of used eyeglasses, reading glasses and prescription sunglasses that are redone and return to those needing glasses.

“The sponsors have made this very profitable for the Lions Club of Horn Lake and every dime of this money will be spent in Horn Lake to benefit children and older adults,” Young said.

While the clouds and rain made it a gloomy end of the event, the Magnolia Steak Cook Off itself made for some tasty food and also shone brightly of those the funds raised will serve.

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

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