Thousands turned out Saturday for the final night of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Cook-Off and the first night of the rodeo carnival.

The Rodeo does not officially begin until Tuesday but the size of the crowds indicate this will be a busy season for cowboys and cowgirls.

Vendors have stepped up their games ahead of the season coming up with new creations to add to this year’s rodeo fare.

“'Alabama white chicken',” said David Simms with Yoakum Packing Company. “It’s a mayonnaise-based sauce instead of tomato based.”

The Yoakum Packing Company has had a booth at the HLSR every year since the 1960s. They still offer the basics, like the chopped-brisket sandwiches they have been serving for more than 50 years, but now they are adding something new.

“We’ve had smoked chickens before, and I just said this is something different,” Simms said. "My son told me it was real good, and I said, ‘Well I’m going to have to try it.’ And he was right.”

Cooks at food booths inside the carnival have determined there are still a few things left on earth that have not been fried.

At “Sweet Cheeks” the new hot menu item this year is fried cannoli.

"So a normal cannoli, dip in in the sweet batter, give it a little twist, straight into the fryer,” said cook Jackie Bradbury as she demonstrates her latest invention.

Tents were packed Saturday night at the World Championship Barbecue Cook-off with partiers piling plates high with stacks of sliced of brisket.

At the Holy Cow Cookers standing-room only tent, barbecue masters smoked high-dollar Wagu beef brisket to serve patrons, who danced and drank between helpings.

With added help from the cooperative weather, it was truly a night fit for a cattle king.

Late Saturday evening, RodeoHouston announced the 2018 World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest winners on it's website:

Grand Champion Overall – Buns-N-Roses Cook Team

Reserve Grand Champion Overall – Jasper County Go Texan


Champion – Buckshot BBQ

Second Place – Manning Valley Natural Smokers

Third Place – Steve’s Cooking Team


Champion – Buns-N-Roses Cook Team

Second Place – British Bulldog BBQ

Third Place – Operation BBQ Relief


Champion – The Tumble Inn

Second Place – Madison County Go Texan

Third Place – San Patricio County Go Texan

Go Texan

Grand Champion – Jasper County

Reserve Champion – Bee County

Dutch Oven Dessert

Champion – Lingon & Dill BBQ Team

Second Place – Comcast Business

Third Place – Smokin’ Stokers

Specialty Awards

Most Colorful Team – Floyd Morrow & Larkin

Runner Up Most Colorful Team – Over the Hill Gang

Go Texan Most Colorful Team – Grid Iron Cookers

Runner Up Go Texan Most Colorful Team – Nueces County

Most Unique Pit – Pit Boss

Runner Up Most Unique Pit – Clifton Chevy Cookers

Best Team Skit – Brazos County

Runner Up Best Team Skit – Bad Girls Gone Wild

Cleanest Team Area – Houston First

Runner Up Cleanest Team Area – Floyd Morrow & Larkin