Rib-off rocks Water Avenue

Published 6:58 pm Saturday, April 7, 2018

Barbecue ribs and chicken were aplenty Saturday afternoon on Water Avenue for the Blackbelt Benefit Group’s eighth annual Rockin’ Rib-off.

Thirteen teams lined up on Water Avenue, fired up their smokers and competed to see who could cook the best ribs and chicken for the Kansas City Barbecue Society judges.

“It’s great. Competitions are always great,” said Clay Carmichael, one of the founders of the Blackbelt Benefit Group.

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This year, the BBG made a few changes to the rib-off. Instead of being an all-day event filled with ribs and music, it was split up into two days. Friday night, Charlie Argo and Five Shot Jack rocked the crowd at Play Selma, and the cook off was Saturday.

The event was also brought back to Water Avenue, where it originated. Over the past few years, the rib-off has been at Lion’s Fair Park.

Another addition to the event is that it is now a Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned competition, which means teams had to step up their game this year.

“That was completely new to us, so we had to study the rules. We know how our backyard barbeque tastes, but to be judged by professional judges puts a little added pressure on it, but it’s all fun and games,” said Tommy Tisdale with team Tisdale’s Backyard BBQ.

“This year, taste is a small portion of it. It’s presentation, looks, how it’s cut. There’s a lot of different factors.”

The KCBS brought in 26 judges from out of town to judge each team on its ribs and chicken. For many of them, it was their first trip to Selma.

“When I was talking to a lot of judges, they were saying it was their first time in Selma, so it’s good to show a positive outlook on Selma,” Carmichael said. “That’s kind of why we did this, so we could bring some out of town people in and just show a positive thing about Selma.”

After all the teams’ entries were judged, the top five in each category was announced. Leela “Q,” a team from Cullman, took home first place in ribs, chicken and overall.

Other teams that placed in the top five for chicken were Puck Daddy’s Killer Q in second place, Heaven Bound Hog Smokers in third place, Dixie Pigs and Chicks in fourth and Hold Fast BBQ in fifth. Other teams that placed in the top five for ribs were Riblife in second, Puck Daddy’s Killer Q in third, Tisdale’s Backyard BBQ in fourth and Heaven Bound Hog Smokers in fifth.

For overall, Puck Daddy’s Killer Q was second, Heaven Bound Hog Smokers in third, Riblife in fourth and Hold Fast BBQ in fifth.

For a lot of teams, the rib-off was about competing against one another, but one team was just there for the fun and camaraderie. Tim Miller, who came from Chattanooga, Tennessee, ended up not submitting any of his ribs or chicken. Instead, he found some folks in need and gave them a big helping of barbeque.

“We didn’t come down here with any intentions of winning the cook off. We had to leave a little bit early and not make the check-in, so we decided we would find somebody,” Miller said.

A man walked over to their setup and Miller asked him if he wanted some ribs.

“He hesitated and said he wasn’t planning on buying any, which meant he couldn’t, so I walked down to the corner with him, took a pan that had about five slabs in it, and I said listen, take these. We’re leaving,” Miller said. “You’d have thought I gave him a million dollars. He just hugged me and was happy. That’s really what it’s about.”

He also gave a pan of chicken wings to a family coming out of a store in downtown Selma.Thirteen is around the number of teams the rib-off has had in the past, but Carmichael is hoping to see the event grow and add more teams to the mix.