Where Did The Dutch Oven World Championship Cook-Off Go?
For 15 years, the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championship Cook-Off had a starring role at the International Sportsmen’s Expo every March. But this year, the aroma of Dutch oven competition, with its mouth-watering dishes, was nowhere to be found. Judging by the number of searches on my website for “where is the Dutch Oven World Championship?” a lot of inquiring minds wanted to know what happened.
In contacting Rod Boyer, the current IDOS president, I found out that we can all relax. The World Championship is not dead. It’s moved to a place and time — the Utah State Fairpark and the Days of ’47 celebration on July 22.
Rod’s wife Cyndi Boyer (a past IDOS World Champion) took the time to email me a reply that explains more about the location switch.
“For many years, there have been some communication issues between various past IDOS Presidents and the organizers at the International Sportsman’s Expo, that, teamed up with low attendance at the ISE over the past few years, has caused the organizers to change things up a little. IDOS still had a booth at the ISE and were able to sell our cookbooks as well as introduce ourselves and our new (and improved) website (IDOS.org) we signed up quite a few new members and renewed some old ones as well. We do not feel this was a bad thing, as it is giving us the opportunity to explore different venues and branch out a little.
“We were approached by the Utah State Fair Park, and asked to hold the WCCO this year in conjunction with the Days of ’47 Celebration in July. We are still working out the details with the Days of ’47 committee. However, we do have the date of the Championship as 7/22/17. Some of the details we are working on is:
– If we will have the 2 semi final days leading up to it, or just the one cook-off.
– We are discussing having the WCCO be Mystery bag where all ingredients are provided (that would be pending a sponsor or two).
– We have also discussed a children’s/youth/novice cook-off during the week.
“We are planning to have demonstrations, some hands-on if possible. There is still a lot of planning going on. We hope to have some final answers within the next few weeks.”
Dutch oven fans can keep an eye of the IDOS website, IDOS.org, for updates. You can also look for information on the IDOS Facebook page.
This isn’t the first time the WCCO has moved venues. In 1985, it was first held on the Utah State University campus during its Festival of the American West. When the festival moved around 2001 to the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, the competition moved with it. (I know, because I was a judge that year. The late, great TV outdoorsman Doug Miller was the master of ceremonies, announcing Clyde and Teryl Miller as the champs. Great memories!)
The following year, the competition moved to Sandy, to the annual International Sportsmen’s Expo. The competition has attracted teams from as far away as Japan, Oklahoma and Georgia, although a great many of the finalists hail from Utah.
Over the years, the bar has been raised higher and higher. Backyard cookout favorites like chili, stew, or dump cake will NOT get you a berth in the finals. Instead, you’ll find filet mignon with lobster, crown rib roast, duck breast, or glazed Cornish game hens. Here are some past entries.
The breads and rolls bakery quality, or better. Pretty amazing. Here are some past entries to give you an idea:
Dreamy cheesecakes, pies, and triple-layer cakes look like cover shots for a glossy food magazine. And, yes, they’re all made from scratch, in a Dutch oven, with nothing but charcoal as a heat source.
The new venue and possible contest changes bring up some good questions.
A Mystery Bag cook-off will put everyone on an even footing, ingredient-wise. It will cut down on food costs for teams. But it would be hard for teams to practice their dishes ahead of time, when they’re not sure what they will be making. So it would be more about showing off a team’s skill at improvising with whatever ingredients they get, rather than perfecting a highly difficult technique by practicing over and over before the cook-off. Is this what the contestants prefer to do?
And would contestants rather have a two-day competition that narrows down the number of finalists? Or just have a one-day competition?
Dutch oven fans, I’m interested in your opinions!
Meanwhile, more photos of WCCO past competitors and dishes: