More than a dozen teams competed in this year’s Spring Fiesta Carnitas Cook-off in Arbuckle on Sunday – many of them mainstays at the long-running event – but it was a team of newcomers that earned bragging rights for having the best carnitas in town this year.
Team Ramos & Kley Ranches – composed of Leo Saavedra, Oswaldo Saavedra, Jose Saavedra, Rafel Aceves, Lupe Rodriguez, Alfonso Saavedra, Jose Ruiz, Sergio Saavedra, Antonio Saavedra, and Juan Perez – earned the nod from the judges, taking first place for their carnitas.
After they were announced as winners, team Ramos & Kley Ranches had no intention of divulging the details of Perez’s winning recipe. They plan to keep those a secret, with an eye toward the future.
“This was our first time cooking out here. It’s a nice experience,” said Leo Saavedra, who added that the team planned to be back to next year’s Spring Fiesta.
With a year of experience under their belts, Saavedra and a handful of his fellow team members said that their execution of Perez’s secret recipe would be even better next time around, and added that they planned to be in the running for another first place finish in 2019.
While the teams took the carnitas cook-off seriously, many were just happy to enjoy a mild, sunny, spring day outside at Balfour Park.
“I’m just having fun today,” said Arbuckle resident Joe Lauwerijssen, who headed a team on Sunday.
After 16 years, the Spring Fiesta has become something to look forward to in town, said Laurie Charter, and an occasion that brings Arbuckle residents together.
“It’s turned out to be a really nice community event,” Charter said. “The food is great, and the weather turned out especially good this year.”
It also goes toward a good cause: The funds raised at Sunday’s event, which is hosted by the Arbuckle Revitalization Committee, will go toward the group’s downtown revitalization efforts.■