The Washington County Fairgrounds were filled with a savory aroma during the Kansas City Barbeque Society Barbeque Cook-off and Championship.
Fifty-nine teams from 13 states competed in four barbecue categories Saturday: chicken, pork, brisket and ribs.
The winner is named Arkansas State Barbeque Champion and automatically qualifies for the Kansas City Barbeque Competition.
“I’ve got the best job at Bikes, Blues and Barbeque because I can spend four days with a bunch of great people and eat a lot of good barbeque,” said Ron Aupry, event chairman.
The judges don’t interact with those competing. Contestants are judged on taste, tenderness and appearance.
“Presentation, but not on a silver platter. Everyone has a nine-inch Styrofoam container, clam shell, served on a bed of lettuce,” Aupry said.
Kevin King said a good entry means no sleep. His team “Pit for a King” is a four time People’s Choice Award champion.
“A lot of hard work and time, just put in the time and hopefully it will pay off,” King said.
Even for King’s team, this grilling contest is a challenge.
“The competition is very tough,” King said.“They’ve got some of the top in the nation here, so year they are very good.”
Buddy Rhoads traveled from Little Rock with his team Woo Pig Q-ee and the giant Razorback Grill Big Frank.
Rhoads said they started cooking the night before.
“You have to make sure your fire is going all night long. I set my alarm clock to wake up every half hour, (to an) hour,” Rhoads said.
The last time Rhoads competed was 17 years ago when he won the Jack Daniels Invitational Barbeque Competition.
Rhoads said since it’s been a while he’s nervous.
“It’s all blind judging, so nobody knows whose food they are eating. It’s a good system,” Rhoads said.
Rhoads said that other than flavor, camaraderie is shared during the cook-off.
“Everybody helps each other out, everyone is very friendly, it’s almost a community in itself,” Rhoads said.
The competition brought $18,000 in prize money up for grabs.
First Place: Gettin’ Sauced from Missouri.
Second Place: Habitual Smokers from Springdale.
People’s Choice Award: Pit for a King.