Saturday's annual Firehouse Cook-off sets attendance record

Photo Credit: PHIL HAWKINS - Paul, Phil and Ken Iverson made up team Bonafide, this year's Firehouse Cook-Off Grand Champions. Despite temperatures reaching upwards of 90 degrees on Saturday, hundreds of hungry spectators came out to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm for music, food and fun at the annual Woodburn Firehouse Cook-Off.

The barbecue extravaganza, now in its seventh year of competition, is a nonprofit contest to raise money for charitable organizations. Many of the teams are composed of current or former state emergency services personnel, and the vast majority of the teams have no culinary background beyond what they concoct in their own kitchens.

“We’re amateurs, not professionals,” said James Audritsh, part of the 2013 Grand Champion team Something’s Burning. Audritsh is in his sixth year of competition at the cook-off, which features categories for chicken, pork and beef. Judges award winners in all three categories, and the highest combined score wins the coveted Grand Champion honor.

An additional award for People’s Choice is decided by which teams earn the most tip money from passing spectators who hover from tent to tent, seeking out samples of the savory treats.

“Our first year we finished last, last and second-to-last in the three categories,” said Audritsh. “We figured we had to be doing something wrong.”

Photo Credit: PHIL HAWKINS - More than 750 volunteers, cooks and guests came out to Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm Saturday. The Woodburn Firehouse Cook-off provided people with an endless supply of barbecue, music from Billy and the Rockets, shaved ice, face painting and plenty of open grass and shade to enjoy the festivities.Audritsh and his team, which includes wife Gina, daughters Andrea and Miranda, Mark Van Lieu, Lauren Pileggi and Ulrich Reich, went back to the drawing board and came back with a vengeance.

Something’s Burning placed first in beef in 2011 and 2012 and won last year’s grand champion honor after taking first in pork and third in beef and chicken.

But the team was dethroned this year by Woodburn Fire District Chief Paul Iverson, who teamed with brother Ken and nephew Phil to form Bonafide and take the grand champion belt behind top-three finishes in each category.

“It was our lucky day,” Iverson said. The fire chief had competed in previous years with Capt. Jay Hannon, but opted to form his own crew this year at the behest of his brother after Hannon decided to take a year off. “My brother wanted to compete in the contest, and so did his son, so Ken and I tried to go ahead and put our team together.”

Bonafide took first place in chicken, second in beef and third in pork. Something’s Burning was close behind after winning first in beef and pork, but an 11th-place finish in chicken kept them from repeating as grand champions.

While Iverson was spending his weekend over a hot grill, Hannon was hard at work doing mop-up duty on the Rowena Fire in the Columbia River Gorge. On Wednesday, Hannon and a team of three other Woodburn firefighters – Scott Mateson, Gary Patterson and Brandon Madura – joined personnel from the Hubbard Fire District to help battle the Rowena fire near The Dalles.

Photo Credit: PHIL HAWKINS - Lotta the Clown made a repeat appearance at the event to paint the faces of dozens of children. High temperatures, low humidity and 30-mile-per-hour wind gusts spread the initial 150-acre blaze to 3,680 acres that placed 740 residences under evacuation warnings. By Saturday, the 832 personnel who assisted in the fight, including Hannon’s team, had managed to bring containment of the blaze up to 55 percent. The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office lowered the evacuation orders over the weekend, allowing the four men from Woodburn to come home just after the cook-off had ended. By Monday, the fire was at 68 percent containment and local fire crews were encouraged to finish containment by the week’s end.

Although the Woodburn quartet had missed the cook-off, many more did not. Organizers estimated about 750 people attended the event, including team members and volunteers, making it the biggest cook-off in the event’s seven-year history.

“We thought it would make for a fun date,” Woodburn resident Juan Moreno said. Moreno and his wife Victoria came out for the cook-off last year and were eager to attend again this year. It was difficult for Juan to choose a favorite from the 13 barbecue teams, each with their own unique blend of rubs and sauces, but in the end, he made the practical choice.

“Oh man, I have to say the snow cones were the best,” he said, laughing. “On a day this hot, there’s no better alternative.”

Phil Hawkins covers sports and the city of Gervais. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1194.


Photo Credit: PHIL HAWKINS - Results for the 2014 Woodburn Firehouse Cook-Off

2014 Firehouse Cook-Off champs

Grand Champion:


People’s Choice:

Two Bad Dads


1. Bonafide

2. Two Bad Dads

3. Loco Ono

4. Backyard Brothers

5. Hot Shots

6. Totally Unprepared

7. Rimm City

8. Swinging Meats

9. Grilling Gurus

10. RG Grills

11. Something Burning

12. Meat Sweats

13. Lone Star


1. Something’s Burning

2. Bonafide

3. Hot Shots

4. Totally Unprepared

5. RG Grills

6. Loco Ono

7. Meat Sweats

8. Swinging Meats

9. Rimm City

10. Backyard Brothers

11. Two Bad Dads

12. Grilling Gurus

13. Lone Star


1. Something’s Burning

2. Meat Sweats

3. Bonafide

4. Hot Shots

5. Backyard Brothers

6. Totally Unprepared

7. Grilling Gurus

8. RG Grills

9. Loco Ono

10. Two Bad Dads

11. Swinging Meats

12. Rimm City

13. Lone Star

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