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KCBS Pro Cooking Contest

Dillsboro, Ind., team to join
47 others in KCBS cookoff

The Lewis family has competed
in many national competitions

Madison Ribberfest
Past KCBS Grand Champions


• 2018: The American Dream BBQ, David Qualls, Tecumseh, Okla.
• 2017: Grey St. BBQ, Nathan Dexter & Ryan Horace, Avon, Ind.
• 2016: Eat Mor Butt BBQ, Keith Helming, Ferdinand, Ind.
• 2015: Bark Brothers BBQ, Todd Wernicke, Columbus, Ohio
• 2014: Big J.T.’s Smokin’ BBQ, James Tindell, Kempis Wilkerson, Lisa Madden, Columbus, Ind.
• 2013: Moonswiners, Chad & Christine Hayden, Taylorsville, Ky.
• 2012: Getta Que, Buddy and Cheryl Schneider, Fairborn, Ohio
• 2011: Buttrub.com, Byron Chism, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
• 2010: Moonswiners, Chad & Christine Hayden, Taylorsville, Ky.
• 2009: Smokey D’s BBQ, Darren and Sherry Warth, Des Moines, Iowa
• 2008: Ulcer Acres, Randy and Zack Twyford, Jacksonville, Ill.
• 2007: Moonswiners, Chad & Christine Hayden, Taylorsville, Ky.
• 2006: Bar-B-Quau, Mike and Beth Wozniak, Brimfield, Ill.
• 2005: J-Mack Cookers, Aaron and Christy Storey, Bardwell, Ky.
• 2004: Music City Pig Pals, Lee and Bobbie McWright, Nashville, Tenn.
• 2003: Hoosier Hogs, Fred Edwards and Ron Marquardt, Valparaiso, Ind.
• 2002: Smokin’ in the Dark, Larry Randolph & Brad Rapp, Springfield, Mo.

(August 2019) – Gary Lewis, of Dillsboro, Ind., has cooked many a meal in his day. “My mom has a large family, and I’m used to cooking for them and for our family reunions,” he said. In 2011, Lewis took his cooking prowess to a new level when he started smoking barbecue.
“I started visiting competitions and decided it was a sport that I wanted to be a part of.”
Lewis currently makes up a third of Farmer’s Retreat Smokin’ Barbeque, a Kansas City Barbeque Society competition team. He is joined by his wife, Shirley, and brother, Derwin, and will be one of 48 teams participating in the Madison Ribberfest.
Ribberfest will take place on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16-17. “We’ll have teams along the riverfront and side streets again this year,” said Ribberfest’s KCBS contest chairman Ken Schneider. “Elm Street will be used this year,”
Elm Street was closed during last year’s festival due to construction. “One change is that we will not be using the grass field behind the Visitor’s Center this year, which is why we have to limit the competition to 48 teams total.”
Schneider said he is looking forward to the promise of an upcoming electrical upgrade along the riverfront that will allow for more electricity at the festival and subsequently increase the opportunity for more teams to participate. This year’s Ribberfest will see teams participating from eight or nine states, with judges also coming from nine different states. “Some teams make a six- or seven-hour drive, and I’m just thrilled that they would do that,” said Schneider.
Schneider said that teams who arrive in Madison on Thursday will have the opportunity to take a riverboat cruise, which is open to the cooks, judges, sponsors and Ribberfest committee. “It’s a huge drawing point and something that the cooks talk about every year. It’s really an enjoyable time. We have appetizers, a live band and a cash bar.”
Schneider said that Friday is primarily a prep day for the teams. “It’s a good time for teams to spend some time downtown.”
Schneider said that judging will begin at noon Saturday this year. He said that there are four main categories of competition: chicken, ribs, pork butt/shoulder and brisket. There are also two auxiliary categories. “We have an ‘anything but’ category this year, which is seafood, as well as a dessert category. That’s one of the judges’ favorites.”

Photo provided

Farmer’s Retreat Smokin’ Barbeque cooking team from Dillsboro, Ind., will try to win the top prize at this year’s Madison Ribberfest KCBS pro contest on Aug. 16-17. The team consists of (from left) Derwin Lewis, his brother, Gary, and Gary’s wife, Shirley.

Farmer’s Retreat Smokin’ Barbeque cooks with a third generation family sauce recipe. “Ribs were originally our specialty and our strongest category,” Lewis said. “We’ve actually gotten trophies from Madison for our ribs.” In 2015, their team ranked in the top 8 percent for ribs in the entire country. Lewis also said that he and the team are working on some changes for Ribberfest that he is looking forward to the judges trying. The team’s cooking set-up consists of three Backwoods Smokers in their rig. “It’s like a mini kitchen in a six wheel trailer.”
Farmer’s Retreat Smokin’ Barbeque has competed in renowned competitions like the Kansas City Royal, the KCBS invitational and World Food Championship in Orange Beach, Calif., as well as many others in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. “We were also very fortunate to be chosen to cook in the Jack Daniels Invitational in 2018,” said Lewis. Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue is a prestigious competition with teams from every state in the U.S. and some international teams. “We were lucky enough to get chosen.”
Lewis said that one of the perks of competition barbecue is his fellow competitors. “The people who are in the sport are great,” said Lewis. “They’re very passionate and family oriented. They’re just good people. You learn a lot from other competitors. We really help each other out. If one team is struggling, another team will step in and share what they’re doing to help.”
Schneider also sees the camaraderie of competition barbecue, especially in Madison. “Madison has quite a reputation. I’m a certified judge, so when I travel to competitions, I promote Ribberfest and help get teams interested. I find that even when I’m two states away, people have still heard about Ribberfest and say they would love to compete here,” he said.

“There’s something special about the hospitality that Madison has. I’ve had cooks tell me that you can’t describe the view along the river with the breeze and watching the barges go by. It’s so enjoyable for the cooks.” He also noted his appreciation for Ribberfest’s Barbecue Championship sponsor, Arvin Sango Inc., as well as the many other sponsors who represent all aspects of the festival.

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