Group says they were discriminated against at cookoff

HOUSTON - Allegations of racism surfaced after the 2013 World Champion Barbecue Cookoff.

A group of family and friends said they were looking forward to having fun Friday night.  

"We were looking forward to an evening of relaxation and having fun," said Roma Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, along with her family and friends, were excited for the cookoff. They got dressed up and headed out, but the fun took a turn.

"A very devastating night," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said she and six others were kicked out of the Blarney Bunch and Belles tent.  They all had tickets to the tent and received wrist bands as they walked into the tent.

After two hours inside the tent, Gonzalez claims a woman told them to leave.

"She asked us, 'What company are you with?' What? What company? We have tickets," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said she was surprised by the woman's reaction.

"'You don't belong here. Your kind doesn't belong here,'" Gonzalez said the woman told them. "We were like, 'I beg your pardon,'" said Gonzalez.

The rest of the group said they were shocked.

"It felt really bad the situation just humiliating," said Dayanna Watkins.

The group was escorted out.

"As soon as we were leaving, they did a high-five," said Roma

Baldomero Garza, the national vice president for the League of United Latin American Citizens' southwest region, said the allegations are concerning.

"When you start looking at one specific group, saying, 'You need to leave, you're not wanted here' or 'You're not supposed to be here,' that's a concern," said Garza.

Local 2 spoke to the Blarney Bunch owner Frank Lynch by phone, who responded to the allegations saying, "This is not a race issue by any means. There were all races in the tent. Race has nothing to do with it. The tickets were not received properly."

The group said they paid one of the Blarney Bunch underwriters for the tickets and had no problem entering the tent.

It's an experience they all want to forget.

"I felt bad. My mother was there. I was embarrassed. I can't believe in 2013 it's still going on," said Pedro Gonzalez.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo event officials confirm they are aware of the situation.

"The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is very concerned about the issues reported with the Blarney Bunch cook team location at the 2013 World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest," a statement from the Rodeo read. "We have had initial contact with this team regarding this issue and the team owner was familiar with this event. Show officials also prohibit teams from selling tickets on property and online." 


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