Although Mother Nature gave the cooks a harder time than the competition itself, everyone at the 2nd annual Barbourville Barbecue Cook-off and Festival had nothing but good things to say about the event.
“The competition was well organized for a second year contest,” said KCBS Contest Representative Phillip Brazier, who ran the event with his wife Kathy. “In fact, it’s a little ahead of schedule. Denise Wainscott and her crew did an absolutely wonderful job of being there for the competitors. This is evidenced by the fact that out of 25 teams, three of those returning are ranked in the top 25 grillers in the nation, and several teams have returned this year solely because of the good feelings they left with after last year’s competition.”
Last year’s grand champion, Billy Rhodes, of Hickory Prime out of Dahlonega, Ga., returned this year for a chance to repeat his good fortune. Although, Rhodes was unable take home the big award a second time, he and his traveling companion, 13-year-old son Wyatt, had a great weekend.
It’s about the camaraderie between these competitors,” said Rhodes. “Sure, winning is great, but it’s the excitement of getting there that’s the most fun. We actually like it here. There’s no power or water problems, not counting Mother Nature.”
This is Rhodes’ 15th competition this season already, and he’s used the same recipe every time.
“There’s just as many good teams this year as last,” he said, “so the competition is just as stiff. And even though the weather hasn’t cooperated, with the kind of first-class treatment you get from the organizers here in Barbourville, you don’t really mind a little inconvenience. It’s just the nature of the beast.”
First-time competitors, B & S BBQ out of Middlesboro, featuring Pitmasters Bill Voges and Scott Lay, did everything they could to impress the judges. They rubbed, injected, and then for safe measure, dipped all of their entries.
“We’ve never done this before,” said Bill Voges. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to take something home. We’re just doing this for fun.”
Mark Sloan and Nick Jones of Sugar Baby BBQ out of Somerset took eighth place in ribs at last year’s competition.
“We were just hoping to redeem ourselves and do a little better this year,” said Jones. “Denise and her crew are awesome. We came back this year because they made us feel so welcome last time. “We’ll be back.”
Duane Hess of London’s Patriotic Radio Network BBQ Team normally travels with his wife Lula and partner Simon Mortimor. However, whenever he competes, he invites a couple of local service members to be on his team. This year his team additions were recruiters SFC Kirby Jones and SPC Caleb McEndree. Regardless of what he personally spends on the barbecue competitions, Hess always donates any winnings to programs that help veterans with PTSD or disabilities.
“No one on this earth knows more about overcoming adversity than a war veteran,” said Hess, who usually competes in seven to ten competitions a year – of which he says he usually does pretty well.
Below are the big winners of this year’s competition:
Grand Champion: CONTAGIOUS Q
Reserve Champion: SMOKE ON THIS
3 UNDER THE RADAR – TN
5 UNCULTURED SWINE
Chicken – East Tennessee Q Crew
Port Ribs – Patriotic Radio Network BBQ Team
Pork – Rocky Top Barbeque
Brisket – Smoke on This