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A new champ, good food and music in Artesia; Saturday’s Red Dirt Black Gold Festival brought in the crowds

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Country musician Shari Rowe kicked off the musical entertainment at the Red Dirt Black Gold Festival on Saturday. A public favorite was her version of Gretchen Wilson's song "Redneck Woman." (Christina Stock Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The annual Red Dirt Black Gold Festival took place Saturday in Artesia.

The Artesia Arts & Cultural District hosts the event with support by many volunteers, including the Artesia Chamber of Commerce.
The morning started with the Oilfield Olympics. The competition is in its third year and challenges the teams participating to show if they have what it takes to work on the oilfields.
Debbie Vander Veen Edwards is in charge of the organization of the Oilfield Olympics, which took place at Eagle Draw under an overcast sky.
“We love all our teams,” Vander Veen Edwards said. “They come and they have different spirits, different shirts, things like that. However, Par-fie (who ran this year as team Fat Fit) have been the reigning champions for the last two years.”
Asked what the Fat Fit team enjoys the most during the competition, all four members agreed on the drill bit toss where each member has to cover a certain distance as fast as possible by throwing a heavy cast-iron drill bit.
Four teams were from Artesia and one from Hobbs. Two teams were no-show though each had paid the fee for their four-person team. Vander Veen Edwards explained that on average, seven to 10 teams participate.
The event itself is casual focusing on the family-friendly aspect with a little competition between the teams that have real oilfield workers as team members.
Asked why the Oilfield Olympics were included, Vander Veen Edwards said, “When we started to do Red Dirt Black Gold we wanted to find a way to incorporate the oilfield and have them be recognized, because they are a major industry here. They provide so much support to our community. We thought this would be a fun way to show team spirit, have them come out and recognize them for everything they do.”
The teams show their sense of humor with their choices of team names. The team from Hobbs named themselves Los Ingenieros Gringos, a Spanish slang expression for non-Hispanic engineers.
This year, a team of the Artesia Arts Council participated as well. Joel Gothard, board member of the Artesia Arts Council, was one of the team members competing.
“This is our first time. We got volunteered for this,” he said and laughed. “This is fun.”
After two hours watching the teams compete, the latecomer Buffalo team surprised the small crowd and the judges. They claimed the first prize for the Oilfield Olympics 2017, beating the champion team Fat Fit by 15 seconds.

The Buffalo team members are Bobby Baeza, Daniel Torres, Eduardo Relles and Jonathan Fierro.
“Our boss will be happy,” Baeza said. “We work in Riverside for Buffalo Oilfield Supply.”
Fierro is the only member who works for a different company.
“I work for Deans,” he said.
The team is planning to return to the games next year.
The members of Fat Fit won second place and are planning to challenge the Buffalo team next year to get their title back.
Los Ingenieros Gringos won third place and the spirit award went to the Artesia Arts Council Champions.
The organizers got requests from the public to include a children version of the olympics next year, which they are considering.
In the afternoon, the events continued downtown with the judging of the Red Dirt Black Gold Oilfield Cook-Off. The best of the best oilfield cooks had prepared their smokers the day before, smoking ribs and sausages, while others competed with Southwest dishes. The teams could win the title of Greatest Grub (best combination and meat), Sexy on the Side (best side dish), Hey, Good Lookin’ (best looking plate) and the People’s Choice Award.
The winners for Greatest Grub was the team Kickin’ Asphalt — Holly Asphalt with their asado dish. The team DCP Midstream swept the rest of the contest, winning Sexy on the Side, Hey, Good Lookin’ and People’s Choice.
Other teams competing were WPX and Edge Coating.
Five anonymous judges from the community were chosen to judge.
The cook-off was organized by Vickie Grousnick, events and marketing coordinator of the Artesia Chamber of Commerce. Grousnick and her husband David Grousnick are the organizers of the annual Smokin on the Pecos in Artesia. The barbecue competition is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
After the contest, the public could enjoy their meals and refreshments in the shade while listening to the first performer, Shari Rowe. Rowe told the audience that she appreciated the area driving in from Roswell.
The free concerts of Rowe, Callahan Divide, The Statesboro Revue, Dalton Domino, Bri Bagwell and Headliner Whiskey Myers brought the public up on their feet and dancing in no time. The cooler the evening got, the bigger the crowd became.
The children had a special Kids Zone throughout the day with a variety of free activities.
Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.

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