Registration is still being accepted for Saturday’s Kids Cook Off to Kick Off presented by the United Way of Ellis County.

Only five people had registered by the original deadline of Saturday, so registration has been extended to Friday, Sherry Dryden, United Way executive director, said.

The hamburger-grilling contest starting at noon at the Downtown Pavilion will serve as the public launch of the organization’s annual fundraising campaign.

“We’re always looking for something new for kickoff,” Dryden said.

“We’re using this also as a way for the community to come out and meet our partner agencies and learn about the services that they have,” she said.

The United Way of Ellis County partners with 15 local agencies to provide 21 programs. Representatives of the agencies will be on hand during the competition.

The 2018 campaign goal is $400,000 — $50,000 less than the 2016 and 2017 goals. The campaign fell just $20,000 short of its goal last year.

The Downtown Hays Development Corp. is providing the grills, which had previously been used for a kids cooking contest in conjunction with the Blues, Barbecue and Bargains barbecue cook-off.

“We had 42 barbecue grills that hadn’t been used in a couple of years, at least three, that we are lending to the United Way,” Sara Bloom, director of the Downtown Hays Development Corporation, said.

Ground beef for the competition will be provided by Dillon’s, charcoal by Orcheln’s, and McDonald’s of Hays will supply drinks.

The contest is for children ages 6 to 12 — an adult must supervise the contestant at all times. Entry fee is $25, which will get the contestant an apron.

Contestants will supply their own cooking utensils, seasonings, condiments and buns.

A panel of judges will evaluate each entry based on appearance, creativity and taste, Dryden said.

The first place winner will receive a grill, while second and third place will receive cooking utensils.

In addition, there will be a scavenger hunt from noon to 4 p.m. for all ages. A $10 entry fee will give contestants a playing card to match the letters in “United Way” to items in participating downtown businesses. Those who complete the hunt will be entered in prize drawings.

In addition, the playing card gives contestants a $10 reusable coupon they can use at the participating businesses on purchases of $65 or more in commemoration of the local United Way chapter’s 65th year, Dryden said.

For more information or to register, go to