WETUMKA, Okla.- A Frybread cook off was held at the Kialegee Family Life Center as part of the annual Sucker Day event. This marked Wetumka’s 73rd time hosting the event. Many Mvskoke citizens participated in the competition alongside their frybread apprentices. The event handed out prizes for the best frybread.
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Caregivers Support Program Caregiver Advocate Eric Yahola (Mvskoke) hosted the competition with his wife. Yahola is a Kialegee member. Yahola and his wife both served as chairpeople for the committee this year.
The competition was open to competitors of all ages. It was not restricted to specific age groups. It was open to both men and women. The only prerequisite for competitors was that they could not be related to a judge at the event. The judges based their critiques off of categories involving taste, texture and appearance.
Prizes included blankets, and wrestling items. The first place winner received a wrestling-inspired apron.
According to Yahola, the Sucker Day event is similar to the Mvskoke Festival, albeit different in scale.
A League of Their Own
Yahola’s inspiration for the cookoff came from a movie that featured a frybread cookoff. From there, he researched cookoff competition rules to get an idea of how to organize a cookoff of his own.
One of the rules Yahola created for this event was for the cooks to have an apprentice. This could include a child, relative or friend. “It’s a thing where we learn from each other, that’s how we Natives pass things on. There is not always a recipe or recipe book that we pass it from but we just pass it from person to person. So I thought it was a good way for someone to learn,” Yahola said.
The turnout saw a lot of Mvskoke citizens in attendance. Yahola provided competitors with electric skillets, utensils and frybread ingredients. Contestants were allowed to make their own dough beforehand.
After the judges critiqued each competitor’s frybread, the public was invited to try a taste for themselves.
Yahola wants to make the frybread cook off an annual event. So far, the response from this year’s event has been positive. Many have expressed interest in either judging future competitions, or competing in them. “I think Native food brings people together so if it brings us together then we will do it again,” Yahola said.
The Kialegee Tribal Town was instrumental in hosting the cookoff by offering a building as a location. According to Yahola, the event would not have been possible without its generous financial donors.
Growing up Yahola was surrounded by talented cooks like his grandmother and sisters who could make frybread. However, he never saw a competition involving a frybread cookoff.
Yahola also grew up watching late-night television show hosts. He cites those on-air personalities as a personal inspiration for hosting the frybread cookoff.
“I like doing these kinds of things and when I have the chance or if they give me the chance, I can do it for free. It doesn’t cost me anything to do it in my hometown. If nobody else wants to do it then I will do it,” Yahola said.
Cook Off Results:
First place: Adam West and Gayle Yargee
Second place: Kristie and Rascal Youngblood