A smoking good time

Saturday, September 8, 2007 | 6:00 p.m. CDT; updated 3:34 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Rosetta Bonaparte grills chicken at the Rooten Tooten BBQ catering trailer on 8th Street during the Roots 'N Blues 'N BBQ Festival on Saturday. Rooten Tooten had sold out of the majority of their BBQ by early afternoon.

COLUMBIA — Hickory smoke filled the air as barbecue cooks sprawled on folding chairs Friday around midnight. They were resting before the long morning ahead.

After all, barbecuing is a marathon, not a sprint.

Overall Ranking for Roots ’N Blues ’N BBQ Festival

Overall Rankings

1. Grand Champion: Pellet Envy (Team included Mike Hill of Columbia) 2. Reserve Grand Champion: 4 Men and a Pig 3. Hot Flash BBQ 4. Great Grills O’ Fire 5. Come ’N Git It (Team included Tom Daniel of Columbia) 6. Pigs Gone Wild 7. The Meatles (Team included Derek Coleman and Dan Coleman, both of Columbia) 8. Smokin O BBQ 9. Callaway Cremators 10. 12 Pack Porkers

Top Five Teams for Chicken

1. Smokin O BBQ 2. Great Grills ’O Fire 3. Muddy River Boys 4. Hot Flash BBQ 5. Barn-EQ

Top Five Teams for Pork Ribs

1. Chick ’N Pig BBQ 2. Pellet Envy 3. The Meatles 4. Hot Flash BBQ 5. Calloway Cremators

Top Five Teams for Pork

1. 4 Men and a Pig 2. Pellet Envy 3. Great Grills O’ Fire 4. Smokin O BBQ 5. Come ’N Git It

Top Five Teams for Brisket

1. 4 Men and a Pig 2. Pellet Envy 3. Smoke This BBQ 4. Hot Flash BBQ 5. 12 Pack Porkers

Top Five Teams for Anything But Meat

1. Hot Flash BBQ 2. Beam Boys BBQ 3. Munkee’s Pit BBQ 4. Pigs Gone Wild 5. The Meatles

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More than 50 barbecue teams assembled near Fifth and Locust streets in downtown Columbia for the Roots ‘n Blues ‘n BBQ Festival’s barbecue competition, which offered $15,000 in prize money.

But if you ask some of the competitors why they participate in barbecue competitions, it’s not the prospect of money that they bring up first.

Many of the teams know each other from previous competitions, which creates a sense of camaraderie that keeps them entering more competitions.

“It’s like one big family,” said Gary Griffin, a seasoned veteran of the barbecue competition ring. “If something burned up, any one of these guys would hand you what you needed.”

Sam Bennett, of Columbia, learned that first-hand when his grill wouldn’t light and his neighbor let him borrow one of his.

“I’ve never even met him before and 10 minutes later, he offers me a piece of equipment,” Bennett said.

The cooking grounds featured a variety of cooking devices, including monstrous-sized grills attached to trailers, converted metal trash cans and Weber grills.

“There is no wrong way to cook it,” Bennett said, “It’s just however you decide.”

Not all the teams competing had previous barbecue experience. The Sterling team enjoyed their first barbecue competition to the fullest, some of them even pulled all-nighters.

“It’s been a blast,” said Phillip Dercher, of the Sterling team.

They decided to join the competition after seeing it announced in the newspaper. The Sterling team is made up of cooks who serve fraternities and sororities at MU, so they are used to a tighter schedule. Team members said they enjoyed the different cooking experience this competition offered.

“We have a little more time to focus on specifics of barbecue,” Joe Sandone said.

Gary Griffin, meanwhile, sipped on his soda and took a breath.

“This is the quiet before the storm,” he said.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Griffin would ask the questions that could decide how well his team will place.

“You start to ask yourself, does this look alright? Will this taste good”? Griffin said Friday night.

Six of the competition’s many judgestasted each team’s product and then convened privately to decide the winners.

But win or lose, competitive barbecuing has attracted some fans.

“Now that we’ve done one, we definitely plan on doing it again,” Dercher said.

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