Bash brings out the best in barbecue for third year

It took three years but the Smokin’ Hogs of Blount County finally won at the Big BBQ Bash…just not with any entree one would expect.

The Smokin’ Hogs won in the “Anything But…” category by grilling Spam.

“I think it was the sauce,” said Lynn Cox from the Smokin’ Hogs team. “ I love it. After three years we finished first. There was a lot of hard work that went into this.” Their charities, Toys for Blount County and the Boys and Girls Club, didn’t get any prize money for the Anything But category, but the team also sold food during the bash, with the proceeds going to those two charities.

Big BBQ Bash co-chair Randy Massey said the bash continues to be a great way for the community to fellowship while enjoying great barbecue. “That’s the fun of it, the whole purpose of having it,” he said of the Big BBQ Bash, which started three years ago as a Leadership Blount Class of 2007 project. This year the committee is donating any proceeds to the Blount County Community Campus initiative through Helen Ross McNabb and the New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center.

The winners in each category had to split half their winnings with charities of their choice.

There were four categories: Ribs, Chicken, Pulled pork and “Anything But…”, a category for anything but ribs, chicken or pulled pork. The entrees had to be prepared on a grill or smoker on site.

Jeff Jarnigan with B-97.5 and Massey were master of ceremonies during the awards ceremony.

In the Chicken category, Happy Jose’s Barbeque won first place, Piggy Bankers took second and Bent Elbow BBQ took third place.

In the Ribs Category, Backyard Boyz won first, Soggy Bottom Smokers came in second and Roy Boy’s Barbecue took third.

In the Pulled Pork Category, Pure Pleasure Porkers went home with first place, Italy’s Best took second and the Soggy Bottom Smokers took third.

In the Anything But… category, Smokin’ Hogs won first with their Barbecued Spam, the Swinos won second and Natural Born Grillers took third.

The Grand Champion category recognized the overall champion in the competition. Grand Champion was Soggy Bottom Smokers, with second going to Happy Jose’s BBQ, third to Foothills Smokers, fourth to Piggy Bankers and fifth to Backyard Boyz.

Henry DeVault led the Soggy Bottom Smokers and said he honestly wasn’t hopeful they would win. “I didn’t think we had a chance. I knew we cooked good food,” he said. “Hopefully we can do it again next year.”

Rick Hudolin led the Pure Pleasure Porkers, who won in the Chicken Category. “I wasn’t expecting it. I almost passed out when they called my name,” he said. “It’s a great competition for a great cause - nothing but fun out here.”

Ronnie Morris led the Backyard Boyz to victory in the Ribs category and was more surprised than anyone by the win. “I didn’t expect it. I’ve never done this before. We didn’t think we had a shot,” he said. “We just planned on coming down and learning, so I guess we did. We thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Vern Ashbrook led the Happy Jose’s BBQ team and said he was surprised with his win. “I was a little bit shocked. It’s always hit or miss to win something like this,” he said.

Rain appears to have cut into the crowds who attended the 2009 Big BBQ Bash, but it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of organizers or the contestants in the charity barbecue cookoff.

Massey said there was still a good response. “People came out even with the rain, and no one complained,” he said.

Massey said he was impressed with the food that was entered. “They had some great turn-ins,” he said.

World champion barbecuer Chris Lily was on hand to sign copies of his new book and hosted a VIP cooking school on Friday night. “Chris Lilly was great, and his school was outstanding,” Massey said.

Not everyone at the competition was busy enjoying barbecue or live music. David Brahams took it upon himself to help with recycling at the competition. He separated out recycled material from the garbage cans brought to a designated area near the check-in tent.

“I hate to see all this go to the landfill so I took it on as a special project,” Brahams said. “We’ve got to take care of the environment.”

A final tally by Brahams showed he collected 69 glass bottles, 10 pounds of cardboard, 218 plastic bottles, 305 plastic glasses, 16 steel cans, 351 aluminum cans and 96 aluminum cooking trays.

Numbers are not yet final on the amount of money raised for area charities.

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