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The cook-off began in 1997 with the intention of creating a family oriented, 2-day event in the downtown district with Yaga’ s Café as its primary sponsor. The event grew each year, and in 2002, twenty-three teams participated with an attendance of over 3,000 people across 3 city blocks. The reception of the public and the Strand area merchants was tremendous. Overall, Yaga’s Children’s Fund was able to raise $20,000 towards that year’s charity organizations - Gulf Coast Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Galveston County Children’s Fund. A non-profit group was then formed that same year (Yaga’s Children’s Fund 501-(c)(3) non-profit) to take the event to the next level and expand it to its current location, Pier 21.
Throughout the 17 years of the event, and now entering its 18th year, the Yaga’s Children’s Fund has raised an excess of $980,000 for Galveston County children’s charities such as Gulf Coast Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Family Service Center, Advocacy Center for Children, and The Ronald McDonald House of Galveston, just to name a few, and is now the premier Spring event in Downtown Galveston. The current volunteer board of 16 works hard year round to fund 18-22 charities per year through the money raised from generous sponsors as well as the competing cook teams which average at close to 40 per year.
The fund holds high standards for itself. Throughout its history for every dollar in sponsorships the fund receives, it has paid to charity $1.20. Also, the fund continues to hold its expense ratio below 11% which allows for an 89% payout to charity.
Volunteers are needed May 8th and 9th 2015 in a variety of areas, including food judging, ticket sells, children's activities, and at silent acution tables.