Relative newcomers win
KCBS pro cooking contest
Bleacher Bums BBQ out-grill competition
for overall pro title
(September 2021) – From out of the heat, crowds and overall excitement of this year’s Madison Ribberfest, Bleacher Bums BBQ of Akron, Ind., took home the top honor of Grand Champions in the pro event Indiana Championship Cookoff. With this being only the fifth competition it has ever entered, the team was ecstatic with the results.
“I think we just found it to be our time,” said team captain Jeff Krotke, 48. Bleacher Bums BBQ consists of Krotke, his wife, Tiffany, B.J. Walls, 47, and Walls’ wife, Aubrey. Their sponsor is Ataya Kaser Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Walls’ niece was lost in an auto accident, said Krotke. Ataya Kaser was only 14 when she was tragically killed on Oct. 7, 2018. Walls’ brother, Ryan, and sister-in-law, Corie, set up the fund that sponsored Bleacher Bums BBQ, and this win was a way to honor her memory.
Krotke said the team doesn’t use any secret sauce or spices – “nothing crazy” to win. “We’re not doing anything different than anyone else. We just learn things along the way.”
The team finished 13th in chicken, fifth in ribs, 10th in pork and third in brisket its their way to the championship, competing against more than 43 teams from six states. This event is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.
From left, Jeff Krotke and B.J. Walls show off their trophies after winning the Indiana Championship Cookoff on Aug. 21 at the Madison Ribberfest.
Smoke-N-Peppers from Greenfield, Ind., placed second overall, while one2bbq team of New Berlin, Ill., was third.
“The KCBS has a sanctioned event in every state,” said Ken Schneider, chairman of the Ribberfest’s pro competition. With more than 6,000 members worldwide, the KCBS sanctions more than 200 barbecue contests across the United States annually.
Krotke said the team competed in the Madison Ribberfest contest in 2019 for the first time and placed seventh. “We give a lot of credit to our wives.” He said the women are responsible for presentation. “It’s definitely a team effort.”
Krotke was encouraged by “a group of us from the same area” to compete. One of them, Jay Craig of Craig Welding, wanted to build a good pit. The idea turned into Outlaw Smokers, the smoker any serious griller needs and the one many of the competitors use.
“We made our own drum smokers to start with,” said Krotke. The group of friends would often “get together for bragging rights.” Krotke grew up in North Manchester, Ind., then moved to Akron after getting married.
The Krotkes and the Walls became friends through a chance meeting and going out to dinner after a basketball tournament. Walls works as a school teacher and is also a JV boys coach. Krotke is the varsity softball assistant coach, and his wife coaches JV girls basketball for Tippecanoe Valley High School.
When it comes to barbecuing, “we just enjoy being together and having fun,” said Krotke. “I’d like to do more of it.”
He said, “Ken does an amazing job for the cooks at Ribberfest. It’s very well run.” But the thing he likes best about Ribberfest is “the view” of the Ohio River.
Schneider said about the Ribberfest location in Madison Bicentennial Park with the Ohio River in front and the Lanier Mansion behind the event, “You see the beauty of the river and the beauty of Madison.”
Photo by Helen E. McKinney
Amateur cooking teams brave the heat to participate in the RoundAbout Backyard BBQ Blast on Aug. 20 at Madison Ribberfest.
People come from all over to compete – Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee, said Schneider. Judges came from eight states this year, including Wisconsin, Florida and Missouri.
“Whoever prepares the best chicken, pork, ribs and brisket that is pleasing to the judges’ nose and pallet, that’s who pretty much wins the day,” he said of the competition. KCBS events are even sanctioned in Europe. “In the pre-pandemic year, it really exploded oversees.”
He said the pros “take pride in what they do. I always look for teams that are new.”
For two teams, it was their first year competing. “One got into the top 10 in the categories,” Schneider said. There were also a lot of new teams “that did very well, and some that had not been here for awhile. I was pleased with how well they did.”
Indiana State Championship Barbecue Cookoff KCBS Pro Results:
Overall Winners: Bleacher Bums BBQ, Akron, Ind.; 2. Smoke-N-Peppers; 3. one2bbq; 4. Thunder Hog BBQ; 5. JMB BBQ; 6. Local Yokels BBQ; 7. The BBQ Bus; 8. Big Dogg’s BBQ; 9. Risky Brisket. 10. We Will Rock Que.
Chicken: 1. Big Dogg’s BBQ; 2. Smoke-N-Peppers; 3. The Flying Burritos; 4. JMB BBQ; 5. Pitbull BBQ; 6. Tire Smoke BBQ; 7. Thunder Hog BBQ; 8. Hoggy Bottom Boys; 9. Cloud Swine BBQ; 10. Continental Barbecue Co.
Ribs: 1. Risky Brisket; 2. The BBQ Bus; 3. Smoke-N-Peppers; 4. Red Rock Café; 5. BleacherBums BBQ; 6. Squealers Barbeque; 7. Brock Solid BBQ; 8. Thunder Hog BBQ; 9. Charcoal & More; 10. Bar-Beam-Que.
Pork: 1. Continental Barbecue Co.; 2. Blue Chip BBQ; 3. one2bbq; 4. Big Dogg’s BBQ; 5. Blue Smoke BBQ; 6. Local Yokels BBQ; 7. We Will Rock Que; 8. Risky Brisket; 9. Smitty’s Real Pit BBQ; 10. Bleacher Bums BBQ.
Brisket: JMB BBQ; 2. The BBQ Bus; 3. Bleacher Bums BBQ; 4. Smitty’s Real Pit BBQ; 5. Hoggy Bottom Boys; 5. We Will Rock Que; 6. Local Yokels BBQ; 7. Charcoal & More; 8. Thunder Hog BBQ; 10. one2bbq.
Anything But: 1. McQ Smokers; 2. Pitbull BBQ; 3. Red Rock Café.
Desserts: 1. Continental Barbecue Co.; 2. Green Eggs & Ham; 3. Blue Chip BBQ; 4. Hoggy Bottom Boys.
BBQ Blast Results:
Chicken: 1. Blue Hound BBQ; 2. Smokin’ Hot Carey Brothers; 3. Willie Good BBQ.
Ribs: 1. Blue Hound BBQ; 2. Bay 3 BBQ: 3. Smokin’ Spirits BBQ.
Pork: 1. Back That Rack Up; 2. Grillas in the Midst; 3. Sena Jr. BBQ.
Beef: 1. Papa Rog BBQ; 2. Smokin’ Hot Carey Brothers; 3. Grillas in the Midst.
Game-Other: 1. Smokin’ Hot Carey Bros - Apple Crisp; 2. Little Sisters BBQ – Venison; 3. Can’t Beat My Meat - Mac & Cheese. Rub: R&K BBQ Pit.
Best Contraption: Bay 3 BBQ. Best Team (Congeniality): Whole Sena Family.
8-11 years old: 1. Sebastian Schuetz; 2. Willow Cox.
12-15 years old: 1. Morgan Schuetz and Paige Campbell (tie); 3. Eli Brogan.
Judge’s Choice: Alcorn, Sage Schwartz & Magrath LLP. People’s Choice: Morris on Main.
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