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by Dana ‘Big Papa’ Hillis

Triple Crown BBQ Championship Results!

The Florida BBQ Association (FBA) Triple Crown Contest held in Perry, Florida was awesome! We rolled into Perry on Thursday afternoon and found a picture perfect location to hold a BBQ contest. The towering pine trees at Forest Capital Park were beautiful, and the grounds where we were set up were also perfect.

A great time was had by all, and especially for us, because we got to see some of the cook teams we don’t get to see on a regular basis. We got to meet some of the people we only knew through emailing and it was great to put a face with a name.

In addition to being the “Pine Tree Capital of the South,” Perry is also the hometown of Woods ‘n Water magazine. We sure enjoyed meeting members of their staff, as well as many of their readers who flocked to the event over the weekend from Taylor and surrounding counties.

We got to see some friends we have made over the past year, thanks to Woods ‘n Water magazine, and had many that stop by our cook sites to see us, shake our hands and catch up. The weather was a little cool, but that just gave us an excuse to build a good fire to hang around all night. We were a little shy on firewood, but one phone call by one friendly local businessman and organizer (Randy Newman) and a truckload of wood appeared to fuel our campfires all weekend.

The blues music was as good as it gets. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time by the main stage, but when I did, the blues bands were really rocking. There was a judging seminar on Thursday in which over 40 new judges were certified! Several new judges stopped by to see us and to introduce themselves. They all made a point to comment on what an enjoyable class the FBA crew put on. Thursday night we bought every steak we could find at Winn-Dixie and had a little steak cook-off while feeding everyone that stopped by. We cooked 35 steaks with not one left over, so we had a pretty good crowd.

The team from “This Butt’s For You” put out a big salad, and we had baked potatoes to make a fantastic meal. We also had the pleasure of meeting some new friends from Old Whiskey River (Christine Kenny and friends) and sampled some of their products throughout the weekend while using the rest for the Old Whiskey River Sauce Contest held on Friday night.

Old Whiskey River gave away an autographed Willie Nelson guitar on Saturday to the winner of the sauce contest, which featured 76 entries! Jimmy Brod from team “Smokin’ Cracker” was the proud winner of the sauce contest and proudly accepted the new guitar signed by Willie Nelson himself. Friday morning we had a big breakfast at our camp, which is pretty common at a BBQ contest. Everyone always brings some kind of great food to share with everyone else, so we had biscuits and gravy, pigs in a blanket, sausage, bacon, fat back, fatties and great coffee.

On Friday night we had a good, old-fashioned low-country boil as a lot of teams brought side dishes and everyone enjoyed an awesome spread of food. If it seems like we eat good at these BBQ contests, it’s because it’s true . . . we do! “Swamp Boys” and “Big Papa’s” both did very well in Douglas, Ga. the previous month, so we promised everyone in Perry a nice spread of food. Thanks to everyone for helping out and enjoying a good time with us.

The FBA contracted with a chainsaw artist from Michigan to carve out our HUGE trophies for “The BBQ Guru” 2008 FBA Triple Crown Championship’s Grand and Reserve Champion – as well as the impressive wooden plaques for first-place winners in each category (chicken, ribs, pork and brisket). These trophies sure were unique! It was fun to watch the winners try to collect their trophies because they were so huge (and heavy)!

Congratulations to “Jus-Fer-Fun Cooking Crew” (Sam and Diane Grogan) who earned the Reserve Grand trophy, and a big congratulations go to HomeBBQ.com (Kevin and Clara Bevington) for taking home the coveted Grand Champion trophy. HomeBBQ.com edged out Jus-Fer-Fun by just over a tenth of a point to take the Grand Champion honor, while “Bub-Ba-Q” placed third overall.

“Bubba Chuck” won Chicken, ahead of “Team Bobby-Q” and “HoocheeQue.” The Ribs category was won by HomeBBQ.com, with “Jus-Fer-Fun” and “Forrest’s Fine Foods” in second and third.

The Pork category featured “Jus-Fer-Fun,” “Jack’s Old South” and “Big Papa’s Country Kitchen” in the top three spots, while HomeBBQ.com, “Jack’s Old South” and “Jus-Fer-Fun” finished 1-2-3 in Brisket.

Our final treat for the weekend was enjoying dinner at Poppa Jim’s Seafood. If you are ever in Perry, make sure you stop by this awesome little place (as well as Goodman’s BBQ, who sponsored the People’s Choice contest at this year’s event!).

We had about 15 of us who enjoyed everything we ate. The atmosphere was relaxing, and the service was five star. Thanks to the staff there for putting up with us. It was fun. Thanks to Perry for hosting a great first-year event. We can’t wait for the 2nd annual “Southern Pines Blues and BBQ” Triple Crown Event. We’ll see you there next year. Bless our troops!