Blood, Sweat and Gears.
Soggy Bottom Smokers.
Smoke on the Water.
The monikers aren’t rock bands, but barbecue winners in the 2008 Big BBQ Bash, a competition and community party that brought out thousands and helped raise even more thousands for charity on Saturday.
Thirty-two teams came to compete and have a good time. While the Helen Ross McNabb Foundation and New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center were the overall charities benefiting from the event, each team had a charity they split winnings with and many of the teams also sold food or drinks to the thousands who milled around from tent to tent while listening to music from the main stage.
While the Leadership Blount class of 2007 started the event last year as a fund-raiser and legacy project, a larger committee of volunteers joined a group of the 2007 classmates to make the event happen again.
The competition site was the parking lot and lawn in front of the Alcoa Municipal Building in Springbrook Corporate Center. In the weeks before the competition, 36 judges from around the community took a three-hour class to learn how to judge and what to look for in good barbecue. Five days before the event, each team cook participated in a class to learn what judges would look for while evaluating the entries.
Winners for the different categories were as follows:
1st place: Smoke on the Water - Jim Koons, Charlie Wear, Alan Jones and Jennifer Connors
2nd place: Soggy Bottom Smokers
3rd place: Natural Born Grillers
1st place: Blood Sweat and Gears - Dave Roberts and Forrest Pearson.
2nd place: Soggy Bottom Smokers
3rd place: Chairman of the Boar - Jonathan Haynes, Scott Curtis and Jerry Haynes
1st place: U.S. Food Service - Chuck Heffner, Brian Smith and Gregg Reiter
2nd place: Chairman of the Boar
3rd place: Piggy Bankers
1st place: Soggy Bottom Smokers - Henry Devault, Mark Field, Louie Smith and Josh McGill.
2nd place: Piggy Bankers - Adam Burnette, Derek Dieterich and Thor Victorson.
3rd place: U.S. Food Service
Jason Patrick was the winner. No other finalists were announced.
The title of Grand Champion was created this year to recognize the team with the best overall score from all categories. Soggy Bottom Smokers won Grand Champion for the 2008 Big BBQ Bash.
The winners all seemed gratified by the recognition and credited their teams for the wins.
Henry Devault’s Soggy Bottom Smokers won second in ribs and pulled pork and first in brisket. Devault said anytime his team’s name is called as one of the finalists, he’s glad. “The more competitions you go to, the better you get. It seems we get better each time,” he said.
Devault said he goes to seven or eight competitions each year. “We won the first event we went to in Knoxville five or six years ago,” he said. “That got us hooked.”
In the Anything But category, first-time competitor Jason Patrick with the team Swinos won with a grilled monkey bread. “I was really surprised. I didn’t really expect to place,” he said. “It was burned on the top and sides. We cut out the middle and that’s what won.”
Patrick enjoyed the competition. “It’s the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s good music and good food,” he said. “We had a good time doing it.”
In the Ribs category, Blood Sweat and Gears won. “We were surprised. We put a lot of hard work into it,” team member Forrest Pearson said. “We had a year to practice, and it paid off.”
In pulled pork, 1st place winner from Smoke on the Water Charlie Wear credited teamwork and the contributions from Jim Koons, Alan Jones and Jennifer Connors for the win in the pulled pork category. The team members watching the fire the Friday night before the competition contributed too because they made sure the temperature didn’t go too far one-way or the other, he said.
“It’s a long process,” he said.
Koons made a significant contribution. “Jimmy built this smoker we won on,” said Wear. “He feels good about that.”
In chicken, U.S. Food Service won first place with team members Brian Smith, Chuck Heffner and Gregg Reiter.
“This was only our second time doing it,” Smith said of competition. “I didn’t think we had a chance.”
Heffner said they were extremely surprised to come in first in the chicken category. “Honestly we thought it was a good product but we were rushed with time to get it in and to get it done properly,” he said. “We were extremely pleased and kind of shocked to win the chicken contest.”
Heffner said the Big BBQ Bash was better this year than last year. “It was run very efficiently and better than last year,” he said. “We’re looking forward to doing it again next year.”
Radio personality Jeff Jacoby served as master of ceremonies and announced the winners of the barbecue contests and the annual Mayoral Regatta, a canoe/watercraft race on the pond at Springbrook Corporate Center.
Jacoby laughed as he told the crowd that for the second year in a row, Blount County Mayor Jerry “Boss Hogg” Cunningham and Assistant County Mayor Dave “Little Dumplin” Bennett were disqualified for cheating.
While other competitors paddled, the mayor was seen rowing with his paddles, but they weren’t touching the water, and Bennett was seen steering an outboard trolling motor. They cut across the pond while the other competitors skirted around the perimeter of the pond.
“It was quite a finish. I’m not sure all the rules were followed. For the second year, Mayor Jerry Cunningham and Assistant Mayor Dave Bennett have been disqualified,” Jacoby said.
Alcoa Assistant City Manager Bill Hammon and his son Will Hammon took first place in the Regatta while second place went to Maryville police officer Brett Hall and Vice Mayor Tom Taylor.