By Curt Yeomans
Officials at Pointe South Middle School are inviting Clayton County residents, particularly the county's men, to come out to the school in early October, for a little grilling, some tailgating, and maybe, just a wee bit of food-related trash-talking.
The school, which is trying to get more men to volunteer at the school, will hold a Tailgate Cook-Off Grilling Challenge, on Oct. 2, from 11 a.m., to 2 p.m. The school is located at 8495 Thomas Road, in Jonesboro.
Michael Walraven, one of Pointe South's assistant principals, said the goal is to get men to come to the school, via a male-oriented event, and then get the men to sign up with the school's All-Pro Dads male volunteer group. Anyone, of any gender, is invited to come and enjoy the event, however, Walraven said.
"The superintendent [of Clayton County schools] has charged the schools with the task of getting more men involved in the school," Walraven said. "One of the things we're trying to do is attract more men by using a more male-centered activity, and that's when we came up with the grilling challenge."
Anyone who thinks their rack of ribs can stand up to the challenge of besting barbecue chicken, or thick, juicy T-Bone steaks, has only a few more days to sign up, however. Walraven said the deadline to sign up as a grilling warrior, with oven mitt, tongs and two-prong fork at hand, is Sept. 24.
Participants will be judged, based on how well they cook two types of meats (with chicken, beef and pork to choose from), Walraven said. Tenderness of the meat, juiciness, flavor, originality and presentation will all be considered as factors.
Application packets, complete with competition rules, can be downloaded from the Clayton County Public Schools web site, www.clayton.k12.ga.us/. Packets should be filled out, and mailed to the school, or faxed to (770) 477-4603. It costs $25 per grilling participant, to sign up for the contest, according to the application packet.
"Anybody who thinks they can grill, or who has been told they can grill, we want them," Walraven said.
The rules are that contestants must bring their own equipment, and ingredients, according to the application packet. Both charcoal and gas grills can be used, but they must, of course, be provided by the competitors. Contestants must also properly dispose of charcoal -- after soaking it in a bucket of water -- in a metal container that will be provided by the school.
School officials will judge the entries, and give three awards for "Chicken Master," "Beef Master," and "Pork Master," according to the application packet. The winner of each title will receive a trophy, title and a "small cash award" that will be determined based on the number of participants, Walraven said. He said the money for the cash prizes will come from a portion of the money collected through registration fees.
There will also be a "People's Choice" award, he said.
But, this is not just an event for the competitors to get involved in. He said the entire community is invited to attend the event. It costs $5 per adult, and $3 per child, for a tasting plate, according to the application packet. There will be people on hand at the competition, to talk about the All-Pro Dads group, as well, Walraven said.
The goal, the assistant principal said, however, is to have the same kind of atmosphere that a person might find on countless college campuses on any given Saturday afternoon in the fall.
"We want people to bring their tailgating gear, like their TVs, and their chairs, and they can just trash-talk each other about who's the best at grilling food," Walraven said. "This is a fund-raiser for the school, but it's really an effort to get people to come out and have a good time."
Anyone who would like more information about the cook-off, or who does not have internet access, may call the school at (770) 473-2890.