LAURIE, Mo. - Of the four main meat divisions at the 21st Annual Laurie Hillbilly BBQ Cook-off on Saturday, the Sedalia Master Basters placed in the top 10. However, they were pleasantly surprised to win $1,500 and the grand championship title and banner at the awards ceremony.
Cook Charles Brosch of the Master Basters landed his team in third place for the chicken category, third for ribs, fifth for brisket and 10th for pork. Their combined scores in all four main meat division rankings landed them a total 685.7028 points, which clinched the team the grand champion title in the Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned event. In taking the 2013 Laurie Hillbilly Cook-off grand championship title, the team is invited to go to the American Royal and entered in the Jack Daniels contest lotto.
Closely on their tail and capturing the reserve overall title was Kansas City-based team Squeal of Approval with a total point tally of 683.9656. Squeal of Approval's all-girl team, headed by sisters Allison Verman and Betsy Masters, have competed in the cook-off for 11 years, capturing the event's grand champion title in 2006.
With a colorful pink smoker and their mascot, Squeal, dressed up in "hillbilly" style for the event to boost their morale, Squeal of Approval not only received $750 and a banner for second place, they also received first place in the pork division, seventh in chicken and eighth in brisket. Placing 14th in the open division, Squeal of Approval was still proud of their dessert entry, aptly named "pork muffins" and coinciding with the event's 2013 theme, "Pork in the Park.
There were cash prizes totaling $7,225 awarded to the winners, ranging from first to 10th place in chicken, pork, brisket, ribs, open and overall categories and rankings. Half Sauced BBQ won the top scoring local team, which is given to a contestant that lives in a 50-miles radius. The Kid's Q contest had two age groups, 5-10 and 11-15 years of age, each giving first and second place prizes in each division.
In addition to the Kids' Q and main cook-off prizes, a Showmanship Award was given to first reserve overall ranked team Pig Newton, which also won $500 and a banner for their third place win. Pig Newton also won second place in the open division, first in chicken, second in pork and paid entry fee for next year's cook-off for winning the Showmanship Award, which is given to the contestant who best decorates according to the 2013 event theme.
The event also included a raffle for a $250 gas card, $100 cash and an event apron with 100 $1 bills.
Entries to the event, which is sponsored by the City of Laurie Parks and Recreation, include teams from across the state, country and even overseas. Despite inclement weather on Friday night when 51 teams fired up their smokers and prepared their entries for the main competition Saturday, many teams battled through the storm and came up with award-winning barbeque to make the event another success.
"We were a bit worried with the rain we got (Friday night), but our smoker stayed lit the whole time," said Chris Hendrix of Poly Wants Some Pork team.
Hendrix and his wife, Ivy, compete regularly in many Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned festivals and competitions across the Midwest with their team Huckleberry Hogs, placing 21st out of 400 contestants in a past American Royal national competition. They have won a variety of other titles on their own, but competing in Saturday's Hillbilly BBQ Cook-off was more than delivering savory meat to hungry KCBS-sanctioned judges. It was a reunion among high school friends.
Poly Wants Some Pork consists of six team members, five of whom graduated from Camdenton High School: Mark Maasen and his wife, Karie; Don Simpson; and Chris and Ivy Hendrix.
Chris and Ivy were glad to join the Poly Lift, Budget Blinds, Larry's Meat Market and Advantage Marine-sponsored team, and also offer some helpful tips to their high school buds and friend, Simpson, who was new to competitive cooking.
"We make our own homemade rubs, sauces and our sausage for the open category," Chris said. "It is about making sure your meat is cooked at the right temperature for the right amount of time. Plus, it is about having fun with friends and your fellow competitors."
For sisters Allison and Betsy of Squeal of Approval, the environment of the Laurie Hillbilly BBQ Cook-off is why they return every year - win or lose.
"We love this area and the park here in Laurie," Betsy said. "We also love the people, the organizers and our fellow competitors. There is a real camaraderie among the participants at this event. If they see something tipping in our area, they will come help out, and we do the same for them. It is why my sister and I really enjoy competing here in Laurie."