Of the nine teams competing for best sauce at the 100 Club of Wharton County’s annual Spaghetti Cook-Off Thursday evening, four were neck-and-neck, but it came down to only one that claimed bragging rights before the end of the night.

“Four teams were within one point of each other,” organizer Andy Kirkland said. “It made it really hard for the judges. The judges were saying ‘these are really close.’”

Coming out on top for their rich and savory sauce were the “Sauce Masters” from the El Campo Police Department. 

Each team guards the recipe to their secret sauce with plans to improve on taste next year.

“These people will remember their recipe and will tweak it a little bit next year,” Kirkland said.

Showmanship went to the Department of Public Safety with their “Impastas” team flaunting a “Live to Ride” Harley Davidson theme. According to Kirkland, “Girl Power with a Bang,” a group from the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office, gave The Impastas “a run for their money.”

A fairly large crowd showed up to support efforts at the 14th annual event, with roughly 100 drive-thru plates being picked up and another 250 attending for dine-in. 

Evan Hicks of El Campo was one of the dine-in attendees, and he comes every year. 

“I like to support our officers,” Hicks said. “They do a lot for us, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Since last year’s event was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, “it was a little bit more difficult to compare apples to apples because the large raffle was not held,” Kirkland said. But the live auction did very well.

In addition, the DPS held their own 50/50 raffle, which Kirkland said was the first time this has been done. DPS gave the winner 50 percent of the total collect during the night, while the remainder went to the 100 Club, which in turn supports local law enforcement agencies. 

Another team also stepped up to do a 50/50 raffle.

“Once Girl Power saw what DPS was doing, they had a 50/50 raffle, too,” Kirkland said.

Teams and members are as follows:

El Campo Police Department; Sauce Masters – Ryan Schaer, David Howard, Amanda Harris, Sterling Labay and Stephanie Padilla.

Wharton Police Department; Ball and Chain Cookers – Ben Guanajuato, Donna Guanajuato, Stephanie LaPoma, Yvonna Palacios and Ariel Soltura.

Department of Public Safety; The Impastas – Matt Ochoa, Thomas Arriaga, Mark Contreras, Kelly Wix, Erica Smith, Erica Rico and  Lori Rives.

Constables; La Polpettea – Shawn Ferguson, Bill Copeland, JA Szymanski and Robert Holder.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; Mystery Meat Cookers – Scott Blackburn, Trey Sparkman and Jacob Copeland.

Wharton County Sheriff’s Office; Girl Power with a Bang – Robin Rodriguez, Lara Ramirez, Jaycee Lorenzen, Becky Bennett and Donald Bennett.

WCSO; Jail Birds – Ashley Garza, Hunter Houdela, Dillon Lee and Calley Strader.

WCSO; Five ‘0 Cookers – BJ Novak, Roddy Rodriguez, Alex Rivera, Jacob Miles and Bill Hedges.

Wharton County DA’s; Ladies and the Tramp – Lloyd Kleiman, Jennifer Cantu, Jolie Chaelen, Katlyn Velasquez and Cristine Patty.

Judges were Judge Phillip Spenrath, Judge Jared Cullar, Traci Knight, Russell Hill and Debbie Cenko.

Other 100 Club sponsored events are planned for the remainder of the year, including the awards banquet on Aug. 19 at the Wharton Civic Center and a clay shoot and raffle fundraiser on Oct. 15.

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