Oldham Lions Club
State BBQ Contest & Bluegrass Festival
cooks to vie for grilling title
at third annual event
are getting into the barbecue fun
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (August 2005) Wendell Thomas thinks its
great to have a sanctioned barbecue event close to his Smithfield, Ky.,
home. Thomas is a professional barbecue competitor who knows his sauces,
rubs and temperature techniques.
KY Edition Cover
Since 1998, Thomas and his wife, Ernestine, have tried
their hand at competitive cooking all around the mid-South. They have
traveled the Kansas City Barbeque Society circuit, visiting Tennessee,
Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Illinois. The society is one of
two major sanctioning bodies in the country that sponsors national competitions
and certifies its judges for holding such events, with a winner from
each participating state advancing to the finals in the fall in Kansas
My wife and I are retired and took up barbecuing as a hobby,
said Thomas. The team plans to compete in the third annual South Oldham
Lions Club Barbecue Festival. This years event has moved
to the Oldham County Fairgrounds on Hwy. 146 in La Grange, and is scheduled
for Aug. 12-13.
The Thomases entered last years competition, then held at the
Belknap Community Center in Prospect, and want to return because they
enjoy the atmosphere of the contest. I always want to share my
product with the community I live in, said Thomas.
For a long time, Thomas has thought that a KCBS-sanctioned event should
be held in Kentucky. He has tried to establish one in Bardstown, but
it was tied in with the Bourbon Festival and only held for one year.
I got a call from Tom Temple to put one together in Oldham County,
The Thomases were one of the first competing teams in the Madison Ribberfest,
a KCBS-sanctioned event that takes place in mid-August and now entering
its fourth year. He has participated every year since in what he labeled,
a great summertime activity.
The husband-and-wife team travel 300 to 500 miles a month on the barbecue
circuit. While on the road, they try to advertise the Oldham County
event, hoping to draw more competitors to the event and get the
word out, he said.
A competition is such an opportunity for the community,
said Thomas. When 50,000 to 60,000 people attend a competition, I
know it helps the local economy, he said.
In addition to providing a financial boost, the local community will
benefit from doing a good deed as well, he said. All proceeds from this
years Oldham County event will be donated to the Dream Factory,
an organization that benefits children with critical or chronic illnesses.
by Helen E. McKinney
Thomas of Smithfield, Ky.,
will bring his Falls City Smokers barbecue
grilling team to La Grange to compete for
the Kentucky state cookoff title.
The local chapter of the Lions Club saw this as
a way to reach out to the community, said Temple. Temple is credited
with beginning the festival two years ago after watching just such an
event on cable TVs Discovery Channel. He thought a barbecue festival
would be a great fund raiser for the Lions Club, knowing proceeds
would be put back into the community.
Temple was instrumental in bringing a sanctioned championship to Oldham
County, said Lions Club member Larry McCarson. McCarson saw this
as a way to draw attention to the club and as a way the club could identify
with the community while providing a service at the same time.
McCarson said that earlier this year he saw an interest among locals
in the idea of barbecue coming into Kentucky once word was out about
Cook-off contests like this are not well known in this area,
said McCarson. But, Its almost a way of life elsewhere.
McCarson said he hopes the Oldham County event will change the mindset
of people and encourage others to help the event grow. It is a family
friendly event, with other scheduled activities that include a kids
carnival, face painting, clowns, a maze, arts and crafts booths, and
bluegrass music provided by two bands Kentucky Blue and
A new amateur contest added this year is a childrens contest.
This is an opportunity for children ages 10-under and ages 11-15 to
participate in the preparation, cooking and presentation of barbecue
chicken or ribs. A parent or supervising adult must be with the child
during the cooking process. Awards will be presented, and special needs
children are permitted to enter, said McCarson.
Many volunteers are needed to put on the event. It provides an
opportunity to fill a need, said McCarson.
Amateurs will cook and be judged at 7 p.m.
Kids carnival and food will be available.
Kentucky Blue performs from 7:30-10 p.m.
to the festival is free;
11 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Professionals will cook and be judged from 1-3 p.m.
Kids activities all day long and concessions.
Hog Operation performs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
A live bluegrass jam session is from 5-8 p.m.
however parking is $3 per carload.
Information: Call Oldham County Tourism Director
Diana Polsgrove at (502) 243-9884 or
Lions Club member Tom Temple at (502) 241-4912.
Lions Club members decided to move this years
event to the fairgrounds, McCarson said, because it is a more
adaptable facility and closer to the center of Oldham County.
The amateur portion of the contest will be held Friday. Judging for
the adult contest is announced at 7 p.m. Friday and at 7:30 p.m. for
the amateur childrens contest. One amateur from last year told
Temple that he enjoyed the event so much that he would enter the professional
contest this year.
The professional barbecuers will be judged from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
This is a blind judging by certified judges, so that they have no idea
whose barbecue they are sampling. They will follow the KCBS rules and
point system to determine the overall winners.
Judging will also be done through the People Choice category,
where the public is invited to judge the barbecue. This is an opportunity
to sample the meat prepared by professionals, said Temple.
Temple told his good friend, Mike Moranville, about the contest last
year, and Moranville entered this year also. Moranville is the main
cook at home and thought it would be fun to enter the amateur contest.
He failed to win last year because he miscalculated the time it would
take to cook his meat. He said he still had fun walking around and watching
the pros cook. The professionals shared tips, and Moranville called
it an educational experience.
He said the contest is unique because everybody had their own way of
doing things. They used different rubs and sauces and cooked the
meat in different ways, he said. Different equipment also contributed
to different barbecue tastes.
Some people spend thousands of dollars in cooking equipment and come
in with large crews, he said. Moranville prefers to man his small Weber
When you get into this level of cooking (professional), everyone
has a number of ingredients they use, said Thomas. The taste difference
factors into the way Thomas cooks his meat vs. the next professional
person who cooks the same cut. Each competitor is different, and the
overall result depends on the way I do it, said Thomas.
Some of the larger team setups can average $6,000 to $50,000 in equipment.
The professionals buy the best equipment and ingredients for cooking
and put a lot of money into it.
Thomas said there are a lot of mistakes in published cookbooks and TV
programs that have nothing to do with cooking good barbecue. Such competitions
are great ways to learn a lot about how to cook barbecue.
A large portion of the teams are retired individuals, just like the
Thomases, who moved to Henry County in 2000. A small percentage has
their own barbecuing or catering business and most use the cooking
circuit as a way to relax and get away, he said.
A little competition doesnt hurt anybody, said Moranville.
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