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Block Party Vibes At AVF Rib Cook-Off
AVF President John Hinkel, left, and CEO Duke Cooper were pleased with the turnout at the Rib Cook-Off this past Saturday.
The grills were going and people were sampling at AVF’s Rib Cook-Off on Saturday, June 20. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL

This past Saturday there was a block party going on at American Veterans First (AVF) on Patterson Road in Riverbank. The parking lot was full as people made their way in and out of the Rib Cook-Off that was hosted by AVF and Protecting Soldiers Rights (PSR) on June 20. With over 200 people in attendance throughout the day the event was a success.

“The event on Saturday was an overall good vibe,” stated AVF CEO Duke Cooper. “We had great food and the ribs were phenomenal.”

The event was held outdoors with 11 vendors spread out in the back and people mingling about sampling ribs at no cost. There were 10 chefs competing in the cook-off and five judges that selected the winner. After careful consideration the five judges, Joshua Whitefield, Russell Fowler, Jack Griffith, Buck Condit, and Phil Blanton selected Troy Lackey with Buckhorn BBQ in Modesto as the winner. He received $200 that he donated right back to AVF and PSR.

Taking all the necessary precautions in connection with COVID-19, there were masks available for people that needed one, people were able to social distance themselves and a volunteer went around with hand sanitizer for guests.

The live band California Outlaws entertained folks, making the event feel like a summer block party.

“We had a live band and hot ribs coming right off the grill and it was free,” added Cooper. “We are always looking for something to benefit the veterans. We decided months ago that we should do a bbq at the building. As a 501c3 we need to make money but we don’t have to do it every time.”

There was an opening ceremony where the colors were presented by AVF President John Hinkel and the national anthem was played. The pledge of allegiance was recited and there was a special speech presented by Whitefield who is a bronze star, three purple hearts combat veteran.

“When he was recovering from an RPG wound he wrote this speech and wow it is powerful,” expressed Cooper.

There were veterans from all five branches of the military that were also honored at the event. For the first Rib Cook-Off hosted at AVF, Cooper feels like it was a success overall.

For more information on how to donate, call 209-863-8480 or email

ca outlaws
The live entertainment by California Outlaws was enjoyed by guests at the June 20 Rib Cook-Off in Riverbank. - photo by Photo By Virginia Still