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Chuckwagon Cook-off brings authentic frontier-style cooking to Cheyenne

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 7:38 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Chuck Wagon Cook-Off is more than a food contest, it is a preservation of history. The event is mirrored after the 1870′s style of cooking developed during cross-country cattle drives and aims to meet the standards of the old west.

Ten chuck wagons from across the United States gather to challenge themselves in a battle of baking. First, the wagons are judged for their authenticity of the period. Friday will be spent hosting a youth cook-off and finally, on Saturday - the final food judging.

“It’s actually a lot of fun, a lot of hard work. All of our cooking will be done period correct with Dutch ovens; we bake the cobblers and the biscuits in a Dutch oven and we could cook just about anything you cook at home in your oven - we could cook in a Dutch oven. Everything else will be cooked over an open fire,” said Bobby Mims, President of the American Chuck Wagon Association.

Bobby Mims has dedicated time to research in order to do justice to frontier cooking. He says the camp cooks would be resourceful when providing meals during cattle drives.

“The camp cook would try to think of ways to be creative with very minimal supplies to try to keep the cowboys happy. If you didn’t have a good cook, you wouldn’t have good cowboys because the good cowboys would go wherever the outfits were that had a good cook,” said Mims.

Mims says the chuck wagon cook-off is the best way to keep history alive - and to honor what struggles those before us have gone through to survive. The competitors invest money in their own authentic supplies and wagons to bring the experience to us.

“It’s very competitive; lots of great cooks, lots of beautiful historic wagons here, and it is a lot of fun to see how they’re very passionate about it,” said Mims.

Mims says the most rewarding part is sharing the history of the chuck wagon.

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