Smoke in the Spring serves up 20 years of BBQ competition and community celebration – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Smoke in the Spring serves up 20 years of BBQ competition and community celebration

Smoke in the Spring 2023 Grand Champions, Janky Leg BBQ, Benton, Ill., accept their awards from KCBS co-founder Carolyn Wells, right.

“By far, the best one ever,” said Corey Linton, organizer of Osage City’s annual Smoke in the Spring State BBQ Championship. This year the contest, which has become known as a premiere contest on the barbecue circuit across the U.S., celebrated its 20th year.

The weekend BBQ celebration ignited with a bang Friday night, April 7, 2023, as cookers from across the Midwest started firing up their cookers for Saturday’s competition. A new team to the contest, Janky Leg BBQ, went home to Illinois as the 20th annual Smoke In The Spring  grand champions.

Grand champ Janky Leg BBQ and team cooks, Jordan and Allie Kirkpatrick and Aaron “Teen Wolf” Thomas, took home winnings of more than $5,000 after competing against 102 other teams in Osage City’s contest.

“We are heading home from the 20th annual Smoke in the Spring!” the team posted on social media. “Three years of trying to cook this contest, and we finally made it! Corey Linton and crew put on a top notch event – every aspect of this contest from sign ups to pay outs are so well organized and appreciated. Thanks to all of the reps, judges, and volunteers for your hard work making this a great contest!”

Janky Leg, from Benton, Ill., won the overall grand prize after turning in first place ribs with the coveted 180 or perfect score, third place chicken, 13th in brisket, and 31st place pork. In addition to earning one of nine 180 scores given at the contest, the team also exceeded the 700 mark with 707.97 as their final score. The team’s Smoke in the Spring grand champion win put them at No. 6 in the 2023 KCBS Team of the Year standings, just under Fergolicious BBQ, a longtime competitor at Osage City.

KCBS awards commemorative pins to those who earn a 180 in a class, or more than 700 overall.

No other teams in the contest broke 700 points, but this year’s reserve grand champions Meat Rushmore BBQ came close with 699.36; third place winner The BBQ Bus had 699.3484.

Meat Rushmore BBQ and team cooks Katie and Joel Fleetwood, Independence, Mo., took the reserve champion prize of $2,500 by placing 38th in chicken, 22nd in ribs, fifth in pork, and 24th in brisket. The team also won the Turkey Smoke, which is run as a separate competition, whose score does not count toward the Smoke in the Spring overall standings.

Other class winners included first place in chicken, High I Que, and second place, Can Country Outlaw BBQ, both with 180s. In ribs, Janky Leg took first; Wood Hook BBQ took second. In the pork category, Barking Dog BBQ won first with 180, Sons of a Brisket took second place with 180, and third place and a 180 went to All Forked Up for Q. In brisket the top three had 180s, Getting’ Basted, first, Fairway Smokers, second, and American Fire BBQ, third.

All of the winners in the contest shared a total of $25,000 in prize money.

Linton, who has organized the contest for 17 of its 20 years, said this year’s contest came together to be his best so far.

“The weather was fabulous. We had a packed house as far as teams and the quality of teams may have been the best we’d had before,” Linton said. He said some of the competitors represented the Kansas Barbeque Society’s “cream of the crop for the last five years.”

Five past Smoke in the Spring champions competed in this year’s contest – Hogline BBQ, Clark Crew BBQ, American Fire BBQ, Smoky D’s, and Last Call Heroes. Other past Smoke in the Spring champs at the contest were Terry Albert, of Blue Bucket BBQ, who served as a judge Saturday, and Rod Gray, head cook of Pellet Envy, and now CEO of KCBS, who was on hand as an observer of Smoke in the Spring.

The contest also welcomed Carolyn Wells, a co-founder of KCBS and one of the KCBS reps for the contest. Wells, and the other KCBS reps, Peg and Dave Rogers, Lynda and Larry Voth, Forrest Bruce, and Larry Hadley, were overseers of the contest.

“Having Carolyn here was a lot of fun,” Linton said. “It was good to see her enjoy our contest.”

As part of the anniversary celebration, Linton named some of the longtime supporters of the contest: Lee and Cathy Messinger, of Dawg House BBQ, Olathe, Kan., were recognized for competing in their 17th Smoke in the Spring. Bob Eickhoff, an early sponsor and competitor at Smoke in the Spring, has continued over the years to give away a smoker at each contest with a drawing from among the competing teams. During judging, judges were asked how many had been there for the first Smoke in the Spring – only one judge, Jo Lasher. Several more had been there for 15-19 years, and a good share indicated they had been return judges for the last 10 years. Sixteen tables of judges and table captains, or 112 people, conducted the contest judging. Approximately 10 local volunteers assisted in the judging area.

Linton said this year’s Taste of Osage City, served up by 17 of the competition cookers, was blessed by the good weather, and was a big hit for community members. While an attendance tally is unknown, Jones Park filled with people, and the cookers reported good returns of BBQ Bucks.

Those who stayed for more than the food enjoyed a fireworks display sponsored by Garret Fireworks and staged by local pyrotechnician Scott Farmer. Some cookers camped on site described the show as “ground shaking”, “made my camper rock”, “loudest boom I’ve ever heard”. And to finish off the evening, the band Chance Encounter played old and new rock ’n’ roll music into the late night.

Smoke in the Spring 2023 Grand Champions, Janky Leg BBQ, Benton, Ill.

Smoke in the Spring 2023 reserve champions, Meat Rushmore BBQ, Independence, Mo., with Smokey the Pig, from left, Josh Wunner, Katie and Joel Fleetwood, and not pictured, Eric Alfrey.

Powered by WordPress