Two CEC lineworkers cook up an award at regional event

Published 6:14 pm Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Two of Community Electric Cooperative’s lineworkers won an award at a record-setting competition and fundraising event hosted in late May by the Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives near Richmond. 

Eric Galford and W.H. Holland won a third-place award in the Gaff-N-Grill competition that was held as part of the 19th annual Gaff-N-Go lineworkers’ rodeo.

The Gaff-N-Go event featured 800 participants from seven states, including 200 lineworkers, 65 vendors, and a record 107 apprentices. Gaff-N-Go is the largest annual fundraising opportunity for VMDAEC’s Education Scholarship Foundation, which awards scholarships to students of all kinds, including students who are pursuing a trade education like linework. The program just recently graduated its 500th lineman.

Email newsletter signup

Galford, of Windsor, is a meter and apparatus technician apprentice who has been with CEC for nearly nine years. Holland, who lives in Carrsville, is a serviceman who has been with CEC for 37 years. He has participated in the Gaff-N-Grill competition several times and won first place in 2018.

During the competition on Friday, they spent about nine hours manning the 16-foot, reverse flow smoker that Holland built in 2020. Their menu featured pork butts, pork ribs, salmon and navy beans. 

On Saturday, after winning their award, they fired up the smoker again to provide meals for CEC colleagues and family members who traveled to the rodeo.

“This was one of the largest turnouts I’ve ever seen there,” Galford said. “It’s continued to grow from when I competed in the rodeo.” 

Both men were pleased to compete for CEC.

“It was two full days of cooking, but I went to support our co-op. Our CEO (Steve Harmon) was the event chairman this year,” Holland said. “My main ingredient is love, along with the pride you have in doing something. It’s just the joy of doing it, and seeing the camaraderie among people when folks enjoy it.”

The rodeo’s participants included teams and individuals representing cooperatives, electric utilities and the U.S. military. 

“Every day, lineworkers go out to serve communities,” Harmon said. “In storms, in high wind, on holidays — no matter what, lineworkers are there to keep the lights on for families. The lineworkers’ rodeo is about celebrating their abilities and commitment, and giving the community an opportunity to see all the skill that goes into doing what lineworkers do. Make no mistake, without lineworkers, our communities wouldn’t run. They are heroes. This weekend was about making sure they know it.”

The regional cooperative chief executive officer said the competition has important parts that show workers’ skills.

“VMDAEC is proud that this year’s Gaff-N-Go lineworkers’ rodeo shattered records for participation and saw thousands including so far as California and New York travel to our Commonwealth to show all that it takes to keep the lights on for families,” said VMDAEC CEO Brian Mosier. “Lineworkers are on the frontlines keeping our communities going — celebrating these lineworkers, emphasizing worker safety and efficiency, and watching them compete with the best of the best is why we’ve been out here for 19 years, and it’s why we’ll be out here for years to come.”