Army officer’s wife continues Cook-Off tradition

Last year, Ryan and Karen Findley worked together to become the grand champions of the Wolfforth Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture Boot Scoot and Barbecue Cook-Off.

This year, Ryan Findley was stationed in Fort Lee, Va., where he has been in training as a recently-commissioned second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

“He won’t be home until October,” Karen Findley said.

She felt like the couple should have an entry in the competition, since they won it last year.

“I pretty much told him, ‘Hey, I’d like to cook in this,’ ” she said.

The problem was, she had never done a lot of the steps involved in smoking meat by herself. Many of her duties in the past were washing up and assisting her husband.

Karen Findley relied on a neighbor, Mike Steed, who helped her load up the pit and do prep work in the weeks before the event. But Steed, also a former competitor in the Wolfforth Cook-Off, was scheduled to be out of town on Saturday.

So she also relied on phone calls, photos and texts to her husband during the day Saturday. Once again, they were working as a team.

“I feel like, I’m out there competing and executing it myself, (but) we’re still a team,” she said. “I kept him in the loop.”

Karen Findley said her husband was encouraging.

“He was like, ‘Wow, everything looks great!’ ” she said.

In the end, she may not have won the grand champion cutting board this year, but she celebrated a few victories anyway. Her chicken won 10th place and her ribs and brisket made it to the final judging tables, which had around 20 entries each.

“I think it went really well. I was pleased with my results, being a first-time cook,” she said. “Just being out there was a win for me.”

The cook-off’s grand champion this year said Karen Findley’s showing was pretty good.

“She did very well for her first time and being by herself,” top finisher David Cook said, noting that he has always had an assistant to help with the work in cook-offs.

This will probably be the couple’s final shot at winning in Wolfforth, but Karen Findley said they will be moving the pit with them to Fairbanks, Alaska in November, where Ryan Findley will be stationed at Fort Wainwright.

“We hope to participate in many competitions in Alaska as well,” she said.

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