COLUMBIA — The smoke that hovered about nose height in the Boone County Fair parking lot Friday night was created by chefs as young as 4 years old, and dishes were prepared for the official judging at noon on Saturday.
During the judging of the meat, the judges, who went through a class run by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, awarded points in three categories: appearance, taste and tenderness.
Chicken: Lutz's BBQ
Pork rib: Smilin' Bob's BBQ
Pork butt: Belly Brothers BBQ
Brisket: Smoke This BBQ
Participants who entered in all four categories were eligible for grand champion. Here are those winners:
Second place overall: Great Grills-O-Fire
First place overall: Smoke This BBQ
People's Choice: Blowin' Smoke BBQ
For two hours, judging took place in the Multipurpose Building at the fairgrounds. Judges saw and tasted meat in four styles: chicken, pork rib, pork butt and brisket.
The judges all try to put aside their personal feelings of how the meat tasted and bestow points based on what the chefs said they were trying to portray, said contest organizer Aimee Olmstead.
This year, the Boone County Fair Board worked together with the Health Department to offer barbecue to the public. About 40 competitors signed up for the Saturday competition, and 17 decided to contribute to the People’s Choice Award evening.
"We want to give the public what they want, and that is coming out and trying barbecue," Olmstead said. This was the first time for the fair to hold a barbecue contest based on public opinion.
During the public tasting Friday night, Lysa Holmes planned her chicken-wing-eating evening strategically. Instead of just going on tasting and intuition, she wrote all the booth numbers and her initial reactions to their chicken wings on a paper plate.
“Napkins are critical,” Holmes said. “I almost docked points for a booth because they didn’t have any.”
Participants slowly made their way through the 17 competitors' booths. Many mingled with old friends, and many were offered a beer to sweeten the deal.
The barbecue smoke lifted just a bit, but the laughter and full bellies did not. Fifty pounds of chicken wings later, most of the new barbecue connoisseurs looked satisfied.
“We cook to please … no, really we just cook to cook,” participant Bill Martin said.
During the award ceremony on Saturday afternoon, the top 10 favorite barbecue vendors were revealed. Blowin' Smoke BBQ became the first ever People's Choice winner at the Boone County Fair.