Camp Hope’s 11th Annual BBQ Cook-off, featuring Mark Chesnutt / Waller County Fairgrounds / Hempstead, Texas / 11 November 22

First and foremost, I must say, what a treat it was being flown out to Houston from El Paso to cover this event and as expected, I had a stellar time, it was if the stars just perfectly aligned, and for the most part, they truly were.

The event was the 11th Annual BBQ Cook -off, benefiting Camp Hope which is all about helping our vets who suffer from PTSD and traumatic stress with interim housing, counseling, support groups and hope in general, anything you might need, Camp Hope will provide.  This event put on by Camp Hope was basically a private party for all who had donated to this epic cause over the past years, in appreciation for all the support, a weekend of Camping, Country Music and some of the best Texas BBQ I had ever tasted, oh yeah, second to none.

On tap for our musical entertainment was the one and only Country legend Mark Chestnutt with his son Casey Chesnutt in direct support. Also on the evenings card was local support Saenz of the Time, and this brings me too why I was even in Houston to begin with. Mark Saenz is the drummer in this band and has recently come into my life as a friend, it was his suggestion I fly out there and photograph his band, I said yes and reached out to Mark Chesnutt, got approved to photograph him as well, needless to say, we were good to go.  Saenz of the Time is a cover band with Mark Saenz on Percussion, Laura Miller doing vocals, Greg McDonald on Bass and Gary Evens on that Les Paul, this was the 5th year for Mark and company being involved with this event, they played one hell of a set into the evening, I truly enjoyed their performance.

Now mine you, this is outdoor event, and we knew that later in the day the weather was going south, about 2 o’clock a huge gust of wind came through and the temperature dropped at least 40 degrees and stayed that way for the remainder of the day and into the night, the strong wind gusts and scattered rain that haunted us just prompted campfires thought-out the grounds, needless to say, the weather was against us.

After Saenz of the Times, Casey Chesnutt took the stage, braving the cold and one power outage, I thought what a soldier this guy is and truth be told, he is an ex-marine, 5 years of service and came home to follow his father’s footsteps as a county artist, as far as I could tell, he’s well on his way.

Next up was our featured artist, Mr. Mark Chesnutt, 18 albums in 34 years, 2 awards in 93 via the CMA, The Horizon Award and Vocal Event of the Year, saying he’s a legend, is an understatement.  I would say, maybe 100 or so were gathered in front of the stage when Mark took his seat center and started to play, but let’s not forget about our weather conditions, 40 degrees with a light rain and a 20mph wind and I might add, I’m in shorts and a sweatshirt. Now here’s something I’ve never seen, right center stage about 10 yards out, they built a pretty nice campfire to keep warm and enjoy the music of Mark Chesnutt, only in Texas.

All in all, I had a great time, despite the weather, great trip, great food, fantastic cause and most of all, great company. 



Tim Schumann