Things to Do

Get a Taste of the Old West at the Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-off

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Imagine sitting on the Llano River surrounded by chuck wagons, delicious food, and great company. It’s a Hill Country dream come true! The 14th annual Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-off takes place October 19 through October 20, 2018. It’s always surefire fun for the whole family, but this year’s event promises to be better than ever. Competition categories include meat, bread, dessert, potatoes, and beans, as well as best wagon. Participants will be showcasing their tastiest offerings, so be sure to bring an appetite!

The event has been awarded True West Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Award for best chuck wagon cook-off. Contestants are judged in part on wagon authenticity. In other words, how much does each wagon make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time to enjoy great food from an old west chuck wagon? Ever wanted to experience life on a cattle drive as you savor scratch-made food from the trail cook? This is your chance to do just that, but without the unfortunate discomforts of dehydration, dysentery, and the other challenges of trail life that cowboys endured.

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Photo: Facebook/Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-off

David Griffith, Chairman of the Llano Chuck Wagon Cook-off for the last 11 years, shares that the mission of the event is to create an opportunity for historical preservation. “Llano County was a finger trail of the Chisolm Trail,” Griffith says, “and as herds of cattle were moved through the area, wranglers had to be fed.” He notes that this is an important aspect of Texas history, and the event, through the use of authentic chuck wagons, brings that rich history to life.

Student Friday welcomes kids and adults to join in on the tradition. One chuck wagon will demonstrate how to make scratch-made biscuits, and visitors are invited to try their hand! Pioneer Biscuit Mix has been an avid supporter of the event since the beginning, and they’re expected to donate 1,000 pounds of flour this year. Another wagon, the History Chuck Wagon, will be available to share the origins of the chuck wagon tradition and the vital role they played on cattle drives.

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Photo: Facebook/Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-off

If you think you have the chops to compete in the cook-off, be sure to submit your application. Cash prizes are available for 1st through 4th place up to $300! That’s worth digging out an old family recipe and sharing with the masses.

It’s important to note that the Llano Chuck Wagon Cook-off is one event during a big weekend for Llano, Texas. Llano Western Weekend take place throughout the weekend of October 19 this year and features not only the chuck wagon event but also a rodeo, cobbler contest, as well as Western Trappings on the Llano, where fine art will be displayed and sold.  A gala and preview sale will take place on October 19. The following day, an art auction will be held to support the museum. You can check out more on this event here

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Photo: Facebook/Llano River Chuck Wagon Cook-off

As the weather begins to cool, October will be the perfect time to visit Llano and step back in time to the glory days of the old west. The Chuck Wagon Cook-off promises to be one Hill Country event you don’t want to miss! Visit for tickets and more info.