A smokin' good time

October 26, 2016
​There was plenty of smoke and fire, but the Pantex firefighters weren’t responding to a four-alarm fire. They were cooking for the annual Amarillo Chamber of Commerce’s Good Times Celebration Barbeque Cook-Off. The Pantex team went up against 99 cook teams, smoking ribs, brisket and other meats, to see who had the best barbeque in town.

Scott Johnson, Pantex battalion fire chief (left) and Saxon Webster, firefighter/EMT, prepare ribs during the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce’s Good Times Celebration Barbeque Cook-Off. For the past 17 years, Pantex firefighters come together in September to smoke the best meats and enjoy the competition. (Photo courtesy of Michael Schumacher, Amarillo Globe-News)

The Good Times Celebration is in its 21st year, and for the past 17 years, Pantex firefighters come together for a couple of days in September to smoke the best meats and enjoy the competition. This year’s event took place Sept. 7 and 8. For some, it’s the group of co-workers that brings them to the barbeque.

“This is my first time to cook for the Chamber event, but I wanted to because of the guys out here on the cook team,” said Jeremy Baker, Pantex firefighter/paramedic. “I cook with them at the Boots vs. Badges event, and we have a great time each year.”

Not only were the Pantex firefighters serving up their best fixings to the judges, they were serving more than 6,000 people who lined the streets of downtown Amarillo for the event.

“When you watch a person bite into a rib, slice of brisket or a piece chicken and you get the eye roll along with the ‘yum’ sound effect, you feel good knowing what you worked at for hours has paid off,” said Scott Johnson, Pantex battalion fire chief.

Even though the team did not place in this year’s event, they are tweaking their recipes and will be back again next year.

“Amarillo is a unique community that’s always happy to come together for good causes and fellowship – often over great food. I love that so many Pantexans get engaged in this event each year, and a photo of our firefighters even made the front page of the newspaper. I was also happy to get to taste their amazing barbeque creations, as well as serve as a rib judge. As always, we are proud to be a member of this community, and I am very proud of all the Pantexans who took the time to volunteer,” said Michelle Reichert, CNS deputy enterprise manager.