The Backyard Boyz barbecue team is the 2011 Big BBQ Bash grand champion.
The fifth annual event drew a crowd to The Shed at Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson on June 11 as 22 teams from across the area competed in four categories: Ribs, Chicken, Pulled Pork and a final “Anything But” category that offered no prize money but did give teams the chance to cook out-of-the-ordinary entrees for bragging rights.
Proceeds from the competition benefited the Helen Ross McNabb Foundation and individual teams could also raise money for their favorite charities. The event raised more than $5,100, said Lisa Spegman, Blount County special events coordinator with Helen Ross McNabb.
“It was great,” said Spegman. “We’ve gotten great feedback and very minimal complaints. Everybody thought the judges were fair. The only complaint was the heat. Other than that, folks really enjoyed the location,” Spegman said. “It was a good, healthy competition with some great live music. Everybody enjoyed themselves.”
Judges, recruited by committee member Susan Stout, received a training session on how to judge prior to the competition. With 35 judges and table captains to handle the competition, each judge got to taste quite a bit of barbecue during the event.
Spegman praised the committee that organized the event and thanked the staff with Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson. “They really helped make this event happen,” Spegman said of the Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson staff. “They brought in a band Friday night and allowed all our people to stay Saturday night. All-in-all, it was an awesome event.”
Jerry Vagnier, vice president of operations with Helen Ross McNabb, looked down the area beside The Shed at all the teams as they finished preparing their entrees for the judges. Vagnier was a member of the Leadership Blount Class of 2007 that organized the first Big BBQ Bash five years ago and was proud to see the packed front parking lot as people streamed through to try barbecue and hear music on stage at The Shed.
“Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson and The Shed could not have been better partners,” he said. “We had a great experience. We not only doubled the number of participants since the prior year, but hopefully we found a new home for that event.”
Backyard Boyz was the Grand Champion with WIMZ Foothills Smokers coming in second, Molloy Boys, placing third, Uncultured Swine, taking fourth and Sweet Smoke BBQ finishing in fifth place.
In the Chicken category, Smoke on the Water, was first with Backyard Boyz, taking second and Molloy Boys placing third.
In the Ribs category, Backyard Boyz placed first with WIMZ Foothills Smokers, taking second and Uncultured Swine coming in third.
In the Pulled Pork category, WIMZ Foothills Smokers, was first with Molloy Boys placing second and Sweet Smoke BBQ taking third.
In the Anything But… category, the team Pork, Sweat and Gears won with their smoked banana pudding.
As the competitors hurried to get their entries in, team leaders talked about the barbecuing and why they participated in the Big BBQ Bash.
Houston Smelcer, director of Development for Helen Ross McNabb said the agency serves 10,000 children and adults throughout 19 counties in East Tennessee. “Their clients are individuals who have severe and persistent mental illness or are suffering from alcohol and drug addiction who have the fewest resources to treat their disorders,” he said.
Keith Burroughs with the team “Butt Rubbers” said Helen Ross McNabb is a great organization. “I’m a former foundation president, and I can’t say enough good things about them,” he said. “Without Helen Ross McNabb, the community would not be as good a place to live.”
Tim Helton with Standard Aero said the charity they were raising money to support was Relay for Life. “Everything we do is for Relay for Life. We also support Habitat for Humanity,” he said.
The Standard Aero team competed in the ribs, chicken and pulled pork category. Helton’s mom, Brenda Helton, made the sauce. “It’s a sassafras-based sauce. It’s a recipe I played around with and played around with until I got it right,” she said.
John Malloy, lead cooker for the Malloy Boys team, was glad to compete in Blount County. “It’s a local event for us. We travel around a lot but I liked the idea of competing in our backyard and it’s for a good cause,” he said.
Mark Malloy said the event was well organized. “It was good last year, too, and we enjoyed it. They took care of the competitors, so coming again was a no-brainer,” he said of returning.
Charlie Wear, leader of the “Smoke on the Water” team said they competed the first two years of the bash and placed first in pulled pork in 2010. “The challenge is in trying to regain your title,” he said. “Doing this five years now, it is all about the thrill when they call your name, and you’re a winner.”
Doug Shanklin was cooking ribs, chicken and pulled pork to benefit the Smoky Mountain Blues Society. “I like the competition because it’s local with local judges,” he said.
Todd Rushing, owner of Smoky Mountain Hotdog Co., competed in the pulled pork and anything but category and liked what he saw at the competition. “It’s an amateur contest so anybody can enter,” he said.
Kelly Snyder from Jefferson City cooked pork, ribs, pulled pork and chicken on the “Uncultured Swine” team. “It’s local, and it’s just a real good, fun atmosphere,” he said.
Snyder said he first started cooking after he went to a competition in Tryon, N.C. “I was hooked,” he said.
Kyle Kant cooked with son and daughter, 21-year-old Acadia Kant and 19-year-old Kamryn Kant. Kyle Kant said the challenge to competing is getting all the ingredients prepared at the just right times. “I’ve been barbecuing for 35 years. I started when I was 14, and I just really got into it,” he said.
Fred Weston of Louisville and Dennis Almond of Kingston coordinated the judges and led a brief workshop before the competition began.
“The most important aspect is being fair. These people put in so much time, money and energy. That’s the good thing about blind judging, everyone gets judged equally,” Almond said.
Weston said consistency in the judging is very important. “These teams put in a lot of hours, effort and pride and it is only fair we do our best in judging because every team thinks they have the best,” he said. “It’s been an honor.”
John Parton with Parton’s Smokin’ Butz BBQ at 411 N. Cusick St., Maryville, said his team and his restaurant consistently have good barbecue. “I think we’ve got a great product,” he said. “You can come in, and we’ll make you feel at home,” he said.
Parton said he has been cooking barbecue and decided to go into business for himself and open his restaurant on North Cusick Street seven months ago, and the Big BBQ Bash was his first competition. Parton said staying up all night and giving the barbecue a lot of “love” is one of the challenges of competing. “If you don’t love it, you don’t need to do it.”
Marc Horton was cooking with his family to support the Community Food Connection of Blount County. “It’s a family thing, we compete in one or two a year,” he said. “We did our first competition in 2004,” he said.