Perfect scores, compelling stories abound at 2010 Colorado Pork and Hops Challenge
It might be difficult to imagine that a Grand Junction barbecue competition was a source of strength for a Wyoming couple.
But that is what happened this year when Lon and Joanne Mitchell of Jo-Bawb’s BBQ in Rozet, Wyo., won the chicken category of the Colorado Pork and Hops Challenge with a perfect score of 180 points.
Their victory came nearly one week after the couple’s son died, said Pork and Hops organizer Kevin Andrus.
Andrus visited with the Mitchells on Friday, the night before the competition, and asked why Joanne looked so distraught. She told Andrus she had lost her son seven days ago, but she and her husband decided to compete in this year’s Pork and Hops anyway because they simply needed to leave Rozet to heal and grieve.
The couple brought with them a framed photo of their son and dedicated the entire weekend to his memory.
“Not only did they win, they got a perfect score,” Andrus said. “That is a very, very difficult thing to do in a competition like this.”
For the Mitchells’ efforts, Jo-Bawb’s BBQ won $1,000 and a trophy.
And Jo-Bawb’s BBQ wasn’t the only team with a story at this year’s Pork and Hops.
The 4 Legs Up BBQ team was declared the Pork and Hops grand champion for a second year in a row, but the team from Great Bend, Kan., came close to not competing.
Head cook Kelly Wertz got caught in a thunderstorm en route to Grand Junction and was involved in a vehicle accident outside Idaho Springs. While Wertz wasn’t hurt, all his smoking equipment was destroyed.
The team was going to turn around and go back to Kansas; however, the Carcass Cookers team from Pueblo heard about what happened to Wertz, donated its equipment to 4 Legs Up BBQ for the weekend and forfeited its spot in the competition.
As grand champions, 4 Legs Up BBQ received $3,000 and a trophy for the highest overall score in the competition’s four categories: chicken, pork, ribs and brisket.
The Carcass Cookers’ forfeit opened a spot for Erin and Jim Frank of McFrankenboo BBQ from the Phoenix area. McFrankenboo claimed reserve champion honors and won $1,500 plus a trophy.
McFrankenboo BBQ also won $1,000 from the Kansas City Barbecue Society, which was in town to represent Kingsford charcoal at the event. The Franks smoked their competition meat using Kingsford.
Here are some more interesting items from the Sept. 9–11 event:
Dwade Jones of Grand Junction won a 40-inch Mitsubishi flatscreen TV from US Tech for his first-place finish in the amateur smoking competition.
Jones was judged by celebrity judges in only the rib category. It is the second consecutive year he has won.
Rick Rozelle of Grand Junction finished second by just one point.
The professional team of Smokin’ 101 from Meeker won $500 from US Bank as the People’s Choice for top barbecue.
The way People’s Choice award worked was event organizers provided two pork butts to any of the 50 competitive teams that were willing to smoke meat for the public.
Thirty-one teams participated and US Bank volunteers served the meat. The vendors that smoked and sold barbecue to ticket holders at the event were: Texas Rib Rangers, 4 Legs Up, Tommy’s Texas BBQ and Famous Dave’s.
Colorado Pork and Hops Challenge is the highest-paying competitive barbecue event in Colorado.
Beth and Mike Wozniak of barbecue team Quau were involved in a car accident on the way home to Illinois from Grand Junction. They totaled their truck in the Eagle area, but they were not hurt, event organizer Kevin Andrus said.
An official count of the number of people who attended Pork and Hops this year hasn’t been finished, but Andrus expected the number to surpass the estimated 10,000 paying customers who attended last year.