MADISON, Ind. (August 2004) Before competing in the Backyard
BBQ Blast, the amateur portion of the Madison Ribberfest, Chris Cammack
of Madison admitted that he didnt really know that much about
barbecue cooking. We had the misconception that barbecuing was
throwing a steak on a gas grill, said Cammack, 32, brand manager
for Grote Manufacturing.
of the August Issue
What Cammack discovered after combing the Internet for information,
he said, is that the true definition of barbecue is a
tough cut of meat cooked slowly over a low temperature until tender.
Armed with this knowledge and a cooker built by his welder-father,
Mike Cammack, 55, Chris and his father formed Wildcat BBQ.
The team took first place in brisket and third in pork in the inaugural
Blast in 2002.
After experiencing success locally in the amateur competition, the
Cammacks last year decided to see how their cooking measured up against
seasoned pros. Discarding their homemade cooker for a professional
model by Austin National Smokers, they set out for Lawrenceburg, Tenn.,
where they competed against 35 teams in their first Kansas City Barbecue
Society-sanctioned competition. They finished 15th overall.
Cammack recalled with good humor the trial and error of the event.
That first contest we looked like something out of the Beverly
Hill Billies, with stuff piled high in the back of the truck. We didnt
really know what we were getting into. I think had the next contest
not been in Madison, we probably wouldnt have done it,
Although on the return trip from Tennessee they lost the poles to
their tent, the Cammacks decided to compete in Ribberfest, anyway.
They took first in the Anything Butt category and third
in ribs. They prepared lamb for the Anything Butt category, which
encompasses meat not included in the four main categories. It
was the first time I had ever eaten lamb, let along cooked it,
The team also competed last year in the Lions Club BBQ &
Bluegrass Fest in Crestwood, Ky., finishing third in pork and 10th
So far, the Cammacks have competed twice this year in KCBS-sanctioned
events, in April in Clarksville, Tenn., where they took first place
in chicken, and in June in Mt. Vernon, Ill., where they finished 10th
by Don Ward
Auxier cooking at the 2002 amateur contest.
Weve won something in every standard category now,
said Cammack. He added that his primarily goal now is to win the Best
of Jefferson County, won last year by Pig Pak. It is one of the Madison-based
teams Cammack said he usually runs into when out on the circuit. Hog
Wild and Pig Crazy is another. Its friendly competition.
We always have a lot of fun with those guys, Cammack said.
The Pig Pak team, composed of John Branigan, Mike DeShong, David Baratti
and Merrill Nay, has made a name for itself both locally and on the
KCBS circuit. In addition to Ribberfest, in which last year the team
won first in brisket, eighth overall and Best of Jefferson County,
the team has successfully competed in numerous KCBS-sanctioned events
over the past three years. Pig Paks best finish was last year
in Gallatin, Tenn., where it received Reserve Grand Champion. The
teams goal is to received a grand championship, which would
allow it to compete in the American Royal national competition in
Kansas City and the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational
in Lynchburg, Tenn.
Were still looking for that one, said Pig Pak team
member Merrill Nay.
Hog Wild and Pig Crazy, the team of brothers Shawn and David Auxier,
has also traveled to various KCBS events. Shawn Auxier, also a KCBS-certified
judge and co-chair of this years Madison Ribberfest, said he
would compete in a limited number of KCBS events this year because
of a hectic schedule.
Like Wildcat BBQ, the Madison-based Smoked Signals team this year
is moving up to KCBS competition after a successful Blast experience
last year. The team, comprised of Doug Spiller, wife JoAnne Spiller
and parents Don and Diane Spiller, won first place in the amateur
competition for its chicken and ribs. I was really surprised.
I didnt even taste my ribs until after I turned them in,
said Doug Spiller, who has served on various Ribberfest committees
since its inception and is a KCBS-certified judge. Smoked Signals
will compete in its first KCBS event at Ribberfest with sponsorship
from RE/MAX. Spiller said he will use a Big Green Egg
brand ceramic cooker provided by
by Don Ward
and son Mike (left)
and Chris Cammack.
The popularity of Ribberfest, both locally and regionally, has inspired
Cammack to form the Heartland Barbecue Association. Cammack said he
hopes the association can help increase interest and create additional
competition opportunities throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan.
Weve already got 40 to 50 teams that are interested in
doing something, said Cammack, who plans to hold an informal
meeting with teams during Ribberfest.
Spiller said that he likes the idea. I think Chris has hit on
a good idea to help bring the local barbecuers together, he
Cammack said he would like to see more communities, particularly in
Indiana, sponsor events. Ribberfest is currently the only barbecue
cook-off event of its kind in the state. As a result, the winner of
this event automatically qualifies as the Indiana State Champion for
the KCBS American Royal national competition.
For more information about the Madison Ribberfest bands, activities
and tickets, visit our Madison Ribberfest
page, or log onto the official Madison