Rodeo Cookoff tickets stolen from sponsor

HOUSTON – When it comes to getting passes into the private parties at the Houston Rodeo’s BBQ cook-off tents, some people will do anything.

“Oh yeah, I've seen it all,” said Red Ritch, who has a tent that serves barbecue to hundreds of children with special needs.

His team, Ritch’s Raiders, has competed in the cook-off at the Houston Rodeo for 35 years.

The coveted passes get you free food and drinks at a tent. The cook-off team decides who gets the passes.

READ: Guide to World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest at Houston Rodeo 2018

Mandy Parker works for Lone Star Beer, which sponsored seven tents this year. Parker said the teams at each of the tents gave her passes for their clients. Parker was visiting her last tent to drop off a Lone Star Beer photo booth when, she said, someone stole her passes.

“And that fast, someone had opened up the door and taken all of the passes out of the truck,” Parker said.

Parker said all 250 passes given to Lone Star Beer were gone. Parker teared up as she talked about it.

“At Lone Star, we’re trying to support local and support the community,” Parker said. “When something like that happens, it really undermines what we’re trying to do and it hurts. Personally, it hurts.”

She was also upset because many of the passes had been promised to Lone Star Beer's customers.

And, it appears, Parker is not the only victim of theft.

Red Ritch said some unauthorized passes from his tent have shown up online. People make a donation to obtain a pass for his tent. The donations go to his charity. Anyone selling unauthorized passes is taking donations away from his charity.

“Somebody has already printed them today and was trying to sell them for $70 a ticket,” Ritch said.

Parker urges people not to buy unauthorized wristbands.

“At the end of the day, if you're buying a wristband that you didn't get from an authorized source, who you're really hurting is the actual tent,” Parker said.

Her cook-off pass predicament was solved by Goodie Girls and the tents that Lone Star Beer sponsored. They gave Parker more passes.

“I just want to make sure you guys are taken care of. It’s not your fault and we love having you,” said Jimmie Allen, of the Goodie Girls team. “I appreciate you guys so much. I want you guys to enjoy and have a good time.”

If you don’t have a pass to a Cookoff tent, you can still buy a ticket to attend the BBQ.

That will get you a complimentary plate of bbq, free on-stage entertainment and entrance into the carnival and saloon.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children and children under 2 get in free. The Cookoff runs Thursday through Saturday.

Click here for more information.