It wasn’t a pecan pie that won Grand Champion of the second annual Luther Pecan Festival Cook-Off, it was chicken. Pete Newsom’s offering of his pecan smoked chicken gained the most points in a contest to judge almost 30 entries in in the pecan showdown.
A highlight of the festival that drew an estimated 10,000 visitors to the small town of Luther, the cook-off showcased what is great to love about a pecan, in a pie, in a cake, as a snack or smoked.
Newsom is the operations manager at The Chicken Shack and was busy at work when the crowd gathered to hear the results at the Pecan Festival stage. Lt. Gov-Elect Matt Pinnell was on hand to bestow the honor and stayed until Newsom could hustle downtown to receive the honor, including a custom cutting board from Archaic Provisions. All winners received a Pecan Festival Cook-Off tea towel.
“We had cinnamon pecan rolls, sweet muffins, ribs, chicken, tri-tip, a cheesecake with a topping that included pecans, a cherry/pecan/pineapple cobbler type sweet and apple pecan pie,” said Sheila Farmer, Cook-Off Organizer and director of 4 Our Community.
“Our grand champion had a judge’s comment of ‘Great! Some of the best chicken’ and ‘Perfectly tender,”” she said.
Hosted by Boydston-Bailey Funeral Home on Main Street, the cookoff had winners in four categories.
First Place Winners
Pete Newsom – Savory
Donna King – Pie
Leigha Pemberton – Sweet
Pam Hilliard – Appetizer
Second Place Winners
Kevin Butler – Savory
Sabrena Goley – Pie
Sydney Alsobrook – Sweet
Third Place Winners
Phyllis Dragas – Sweet
Angela Panacci – Pie/Sweet
Pete Newsom – Savory
The entries were judged by a celebratory panel that included some returnees from the first Pecan Festival in 2017. Our thanks to all of them for participating and doing the “hard work” of tasting delicious food and scoring the entries to deem the winners.
- Marcellus Fields, Coach/Pastor
- Barry Gunn, Luther Public Schools Superintendent
- Steve Broudy, Luther School Board President
- Kandyce Mitchell, Mitchell Talks
- Scott Mitchell, Mitchell Talks
- Niki Taylor, Court Clerk, Town of Luther
- Lance Tibbetts, US Marshall
- Chief John Brown, Luther Fire Department
- Rozella Sumner, Oklahoma Beef Cook-Off Winner
- Trevor Steward, executive director, Oklahoma Free Wheel
- Greg Elwell, writer/reviewer, I Ate Oklahoma
- Haskell Browning, Baseball Coach, Luther High School
- Rep. Kevin Wallace, Oklahoma House of Representatives
Cook-Off Sponsors included the Oklahoma Pork Council, and The Sumner Family.
Farmer said the cookoff, auction and raffle at the Pecan Festival is the organization’s biggest fund-raiser of the year and earned $2,400. 4 Our Community works throughout the year to help with teacher and classroom supplies and other community needs.
We are working on seeing if any of our winners will share their recipes!