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Steak Cookoff Draws Record Number of Grill Team Entrants

The Sunshine State Steak Cook-Off is already one of Ave Maria's most popular annual events. This year's, on Saturday, Jan. 28, might be the biggest yet.

trophies1A total of 22 grill teams, the most in the event's seven-year history, have signed up to compete for the honor of cooking the best steak in Florida. A core of local Ave Maria grill team entrants will be joined this year by teams from throughout southwest Florida and some from as far away as Arkansas and Texas, including a winner of the world championship steak cook-off in Magnolia, Arkansas. (right, the 2017 trophies that will be awarded)

Steaks will be served beginning at 5 p.m. and this year the cook-off follows a day of fun activities in the Ave Maria town center that are part of a new "Great American Saturday" event sponsored by Ave Maria Development. Those events kick off with a 5K Fun Run at 8:30 a.m. benefiting ExEL Foundation, a group dedicated to early childhood learning. From 10 a.m. til 4 p.m. there will be a variety of free activities including obstacle courses, a fun slide, bounce houses, a muscle car show.

Music starts at 10 a.m. and continues until 6 p.m. Steak Cook-Off winners will be announced at 6:30 p.m.

Cook-Off tickets have sold out in all but one of the previous six years and organizers are suggesting buying tickets as soon as possible. They're $20, which includes a 16-ounce ribeye steak, salad, roll, baked potato and water, and can be purchased at the Ave Maria Quasi Parish office, the Ave Maria development office or online at https://sssscookoff.com. The steak cook-off is sponsored by the parish and proceeds benefit local charities.

Schedule for Sunshine State Steak Cook-Off and Great American Saturday Jan. 28, 2017

8:30 a.m. - 5K Fun Run to benefit ExEL Foundation. To register go to https://runsignup.com/Race/FL/AveMaria/ExELFoundation5KRunWalk

10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Activities in town center including obstacle courses, bounce houses, muscle car show. DJ from 10 a.m. to noon; live music from the Ben Allen Band from noon to 4 p.m.

2 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Silent Auction in the town center

3 p.m. - Grill lighting

5 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Serving line open (experienced steak cook-off aficionados begin lining up at 4:30)

6:30 p.m. - Awards ceremony

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