A new winner crowned at the Charles City BBQ challenge

By Thomas Nelson, tnelson@charlescitypress.com

The Whitewater Weekend wasn’t all about water.

Just a bridge away from the kayakers, 18 cooks prepared pork ribs in the parking lot of what will be Hot Shots during an all-day competition known as the Charles City BBQ Challenge.

Slop House BBQ took the top honor and the $750 cash prize as the first place winner in certified judging, and Double D BBQ won first place in the People’s Choice awards.

During the competition the organizers sold 100 VIP tickets, allowing the holders to vote on the People’s Choice winner and sample one rib from each of 18 competitors. Ala carte tickets were also available for three ribs each.

The Charles City BBQ Challenge is a family event where two or more people end up using the VIP tickets, said Charles City Chamber of Commerce and Community Development Director Mark Wicks.

“The ribs were really good this year,” Wicks said. “Everybody’s got their favorite. It’ll be interesting to see how the votes come out.”

Participants came from all over Iowa and the Midwest to compete.

There was no solid defining amount of experience required to participate, with some of the participants having only two years of experience and others going to 20 to 30 competitions a year.

Rusty Hadacek and Joe Mattahs of Two Scubbas BBQ have been barbecuing for a while, but have only recently started competing.

Hadacek and Mattahs use apple and hickory wood in all four of their grills, which were going at the same time.

Three of the grills were barrel smokers they made themselves.

“We’ve been practicing for the last three or four weeks,” Mattahs said. “Doing some test runs at home getting our game plan set.”

This is their first time BBQing for the Charles City BBQ Challenge.

Nathan and Hayden Ostrander at Pump It Up BBQ have been barbecuing for 10 years.

Ostrander was here last year and made a pile of ribs, he said.

For Ostrander the temperature of the barbecue is very important. He cooks the rib for four to five hours, he said. He also participates in barbecues at Mason City and Kansas City as well.

His favorite part of a barbecue is when he hands food out to people and see their reaction when they first bite into the meat, Ostrander said.

Kory McIntire at TJ’s Eggheads used two large Green Egg smokers to make his ribs.

A lot of McIntire’s ribs’ taste come from the sauce and the seasoning rub that he’s worked on and put on the ribs throughout the day.

“Fired up the grills at 8 a.m. this morning and get it up to temp and put the rub and the ribs and let them sit in there for three hours,” McIntire said. After that he cooked some barbecue sauce on the ribs for two more hours.

McIntire has been barbecuing for four years, and has been to the Charles City BBQ Challenge three times.

State Street BBQ came in third place for certified judging, and Pump It BBQ and Wag’s Backwoods BBQ tied in second place for certified judging.

Three Guys BBQ came in fourth place for the certified judging and Quality Auto Service came in second for the People’s Choice.

During the event, two-time defending champion of the previous Charles City BBQ Challenge, Black Dog BBQ, provided vendor services at the White Water Weekend.

“The opted not to compete this year, but instead be a vendor for us,” Wicks said. “We really appreciate that.”