CONCORD -- Ten-year-old Ava Orozco's favorite father figure is her Uncle Dodge Williams. He's her protector, who "works hard to help us survive."

Seth Gwynn, 11, credits his dad David as being the first to buoy his spirits when his baseball team loses. He's grateful for his dad's constant support and for their "amazing relationship."

And, Ashley Byrd, 11, says she is her father's "pride and joy" in a school essay contest about what makes their fathers the best in the land.

Tim Byrd is the cheering voice above the crowd at her swim meets and is ever making his family laugh.

These local fathers and other area dads can once again relish favorite activities with their family at the annual DadDay event at Todos Santos Plaza on Saturday.

The downtown event kicks off at 11 a.m., with men gathering at their cauldrons to create their winning chili concoctions.

It is once again a venue for the lighthearted rivalry between firemen and police to compete.

"We intentionally give each other a hard time, but it's always done with a smile," says Lee Lawrence, a reserve officer, officer in training and member of the Concord Police Officers Association.

For the third year, Lawrence is head chef in the association's sponsored booth, each time tweaking his traditional meat-only Southern-style recipe based on feedback from prior years.

Fireman Troy Auzenne is competing for the first time, confident in his secret ingredient, his homemade stir-fry style, sweet and spicy chili sauce that he sells at more than four dozen grocery stores and a few wineries.


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"Like most firemen, I love to cook," he says. "I'm eager to get out there and see what people think."

Warren Lake, reluctant to "call (himself) a chef," is another new entrant, bringing his turkey chili to the competition to help give his service organization, the Concord Masonic Family, more public exposure.

"We're here to have some fun and see how it's done," he says.

Sampling chili is part of the day's festivities that include a karaoke contest, starting at noon, followed by the local popular rock band PUSH at 2 p.m.

Concord City Councilman Ron Leone will be the first to try out his tenor-range pipes singing karaoke.

While Leone says he's sung in the past in bars and restaurants, where "half of the audience are (intoxicated) and the other half aren't paying attention," this will be the first time performing on an outdoor stage.

"I figure maybe it would encourage others (to sing)," he says. "This is family entertainment. I'm willing to do it for the (local) economy's sake."

Channel 7 news anchorman Dan Ashley, lead vocalist for PUSH, has been a longtime supporter of downtown Concord events. The classic American rock band has performed a few times during the Music and Market Series and this is their debut DadDay appearance.

"I love supporting Concord. People are there to hear music. The vibe is fun. It's a great thrill to play from that number of people," Ashley says of the average crowds of a few thousand. "People recognize that it's a wonderful way to bring people together."

DadDay
When: 12 p.m., Sunday, June 16
Where: Todos Santos Plaza, Grant Street and Willow Pass Road, Concord
Cost: Free
Information: Call 925-671-3464 or visit www.concordfirst.org