'Ribeyes and Rabbits' Grillmarks competition on for Saturday

May 1—A total of 30 teams are getting ready to fire up their grills for an annual steak competition that's also bringing a little hop to this year's event in downtown McAlester.

Organizers encourage community members to walk around Choctaw Avenue, try each teams' items and snacks, play games and enjoy a block-party-type event during the annual Grillmarks Festival Series being held Saturday.

Grillmarks is organized by McAlester Makers Inc., a 501c(3) nonprofit based in McAlester dedicated to promoting economic stability and growth by cultivating and equipping local entrepreneurs, artisans, and the community in which they live.

The theme for this year is Ribeyes and Rabbits.

This year's competition will start after the Armed Forces Day Parade concludes that morning with competitors entering at the intersection of Fifth Street and Choctaw Avenue.

Signups to compete in the competition closed on March 11 after all 30 spots were filled, according to organizers.

Each team will receive two untrimmed choice or prime ribeyes cut to 1 1/4 inch thickness for the competition.

Contest rules prohibit teams from using sauces or garnish, and no other steaks can be in the cooking area. The target temperature for competition is medium.

Competitors will participate in the steak draft at approximately 12 p.m. with a representative drawing a number representing their turn in line. Steaks will be displayed for choosing in a snake order for the draft until each team has five steaks.

Steaks will be judged in a blind format based on appearance, temperature, and overall impression. Each team's head cook must be at least 18 years old.

Cooks will also have the option to participate in the Best Bite competition featuring rabbit from 3F's Feathers-N-Fur Farm in Checotah. Teams will receive two full separated and butchered New Zealand white rabbits divided into front legs, hind quarters and loins.

The Best Bite competition is not blind and each team must be prepared to present the entry to the judges, explain and describe the ingredients and cooking process and answer questions.

Each entry must cook the rabbits in any method they choose using any ingredients at their disposal.

The People's Choice competition also returns and will take place from 5-6 p.m.

Teams can put out any food item they prefer, and a variety of anonymous judges will taste and submit their scores.

The winners of the steak competition will receive $2,500, Best Bite competition winners receive $1,750, and the People's Choice winners receive $1,250, along with a trophy in each category.

Winners will be announced at 8:30 p.m. — immediately followed by the Paul Benjaman Band performing at Spaceship Earth Coffee.