For the 17th consecutive year, the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce hosted the “Good Times” Barbeque Thursday Sept. 13. The event, closing down a four-block radius of downtown Amarillo for two days, is an annual non-dues fundraiser for the chamber. According to Amarillo Chamber Senior Director of Communications Penni Bentley, more than 5,000 people purchase a wristband every year and come out to eat an unlimited variety of barbeque and beverages provided by over 100 local businesses that sponsor the barbeque.
Friends and family of the sponsoring teams who came out for a pre-event tasting the day before huddled under canopies away from the drizzle, heightening the anxiety for how the weather would affect the next day’s festivities. But despite the rainy weather conditions with temperatures dipping into the 50s, the Chamber breathed a sigh of relief as people of the Panhandle showed up with their appetites when the gates opened to the public at 5 p.m.
“The weather couldn’t hurt [the barbeque],” Jeremy Herrera, Independent Equipment Manager of Coors, said. “If people have umbrellas, they will be out at the chamber barbeque. It’s too big for people to miss.”
Coors, Arctic Glacier and Tyson were the three title sponsors for the event. Tyson donating between 16 and 19 thousand pounds of meat for competitors to slice, dice and spice any way of their choosing to serve the public. Cooking teams were only required to purchase meat for submission to the cook-off.
“Donating the food is a great way for Tyson to give back and support the people of Amarillo,” Tyson Complex Secretary Sovaner Carter said.
Supporting the people of Amarillo and getting to have fun are also why Marilyn Welborn, senior vice president of Amarillo Community Federal Credit Union, said her company participates annually.
“[The barbeque] really brings out the competition in people,” Welborn said. “This is serious stuff. People really go to great lengths for the barbeque, sleeping outside overnight to watch their fires and start cooking at the right time, but it’s all in fun.”
From participating in cooking teams or serving on the judging committee to choose the winners in each of the twelve categories, the avenues for community involvement are plentiful.
“This is the only time of year you get to see a lot of people, it’s a great way to network,” Welborn said. “[The barbeque] is really named the right thing –‘Good Times;’ it’s a celebration. This is a great time of year for individual businesses to just come out and work together for the good of the Chamber and the good of the community.”