BBQ – Shawnee receives the grand champion award for the
2010 Smoke in the Spring BBQ contest from organizer Corey Linton,
from left—Sammy Homolka, Matthew Schneider, Bobby Homolka,
Linton, team captain Mark Schneider, John Henry Homolka and
Wayne White | Managing Editor
OSAGE CITY—It might not have been divine intervention,
but the barbecue gods were smiling Saturday on Osage City and
a relative newcomer to the barbecue contest circuit.
“It was great, we were blessed that day,” said Mark
Schneider, chief cook of Holy Smoke BBQ – Shawnee, the
barbecue team that won grand champion of Osage City’s
seventh annual Smoke in the Spring State BBQ Championship.
Schneider explained this week that he had competed in barbecue
contests for the first time last year. Competing in about a
dozen contests last season, his team was also blessed then by
winning two grand championships. Osage City’s contest
was the first this year for Schneider’s team that usually
consists of him and his wife. Since his wife was unable to attend
last weekend’s contest, Schneider invited along his friend
Bobby Homolka, also of Shawnee, and two of each man’s
The Holy Smoke BBQ team took second in the chicken and pork
categories, ninth in pork ribs, and 27th in brisket to win the
grand champion spot in the contest.
Schneider said that as happy as he was to win his third grand
championship, Homolka was even more excited in his first experience
as part of a winning barbecue team.
“He was beside himself” as the team was announced
as the contest champion, Schneider said of Homolka.
Taking reserve grand champion in the contest was Stephanie Wilson,
Kansas City, Mo., of The Slabs.com team. Wilson’s team
took first in chicken, first in pork, 16th in brisket, and 33rd
in ribs. Earning third place was Munchin’ Hogs at the
Hilton, last year’s Smoke in the Spring grand champs.
Other top winners included Rubbin’ It and Lovin’
BBQ, Lee’s Summit, Mo., in the ribs category; KC Can Crew,
Lee’s Summit, brisket; Muddy Butts BBQ, Manhattan, cook’s
choice; and Burnin’ Down the Hog, Olathe, dessert.
Another first this year was The Osage County Herald-Chronicle’s
traveling trophy, presented to the top points-earner among Osage
County’s barbecue teams. Winning the award was Kevin Henery’s
Pit Crew BBQ, Overbrook, which took seventh-place overall in
the competition. The trophy will be engraved with the team’s
name and passed on to next year’s winner. The winner also
receives free entry into next year’s Smoke in the Spring.
Even without considering his win, Schneider said Osage City’s
competition was a delight to participate in.
“Corey (Linton) and the group of folks who organized this
contest did an outstanding job,” Schneider said. “This
is one of best organized contests we’ve been to. We’ll
definitely come back next year.”
He also pointed to the skilled competitors he faced that challenged
him as a newcomer to his hobby.
“There were some heavy hitters out there,” Schneider
Still recovering from the weekend on Tuesday, Linton said the
event proved to be Osage City’s most successful contest
to date. While the turnout of 84 barbecue teams, 84 judges,
and 14 table captains was the largest in the contest since its
beginning, Linton said the community’s participation in
the activities was the highlight of the event.
“We estimated over 2,000 people were here Friday for lawn
mower demolition, the food, and the music,” Linton said.
The band Old Skool performed Friday night at the community building.
“Just to see that turnout and interest, and community
support for the event, that’s what makes it great,”
Linton said. “That’s what the teams notice the most,
is community interest in the event. That’s why they like
coming here – the atmosphere. They are very impressed
by what we do, how organized we are.”
Linton reported that over $6,500 in BBQ Bucks were sold for
Friday’s Taste of Osage City, in which scrip money is
purchased, then exchanged for food from participating barbecue
teams. He said this year’s total doubled last year’s
sales, which was double of the previous year’s. The food
sold out during the walk-around buffet. The chefs keep 90 percent
of the proceeds, while the city keeps the remainder.
Mark Simmons, a Kansas City Barbeque Society representative
who helped oversee the competition and judging, said Osage City’s
contest is becoming one of the premier contests on the circuit.
He said the quality of judges and table captains is making the
event popular among barbecue competitors.
Simmons noted that about 95 percent of Smoke in the Spring judges
are KCBS certified, with a good share of those being “master
judges.” Certified judges must attend a KCBS class to
earn their credentials; master judges are certified judges who
have judged 30 or more contests. Likewise, most of the table
captains, who deliver entries to the judges’ tables, were
also certified, making for the professional flavor of Osage
“This is a great contest,” Simmons said Saturday
while overseeing the dozens of judges tasting the barbecue.
Simmons noted the large amount of certified judges attracts
some of the best barbecue teams to the contest.
Linton credits Dave Azwell, Osage City, for recruiting the judges.
“He’s the one who attracts and brings in all the
quality judges,” Linton said of Azwell.
Azwell announced Saturday that he had many more requests to
attend from certified judges than he could accommodate. He encouraged
all of the judges present to contact him as soon as possible
to be placed on the list as judges for next year’s contest.
Competitors are also urged to sign up early, as Linton said
this year’s 84 teams are likely the limit of how many
can compete at Osage City. Part of the logistics of hosting
the large amount of teams is the availability of electrical
outlets at Osage City’s Jones Park.
While the barbecue teams were competing Saturday, another exhibition,
the sixth annual Cruis’n and Cook’n Car Show, also
attracted a large crowd at the park. Almost 200 classic and
antique cars were featured during the show hosted by the Twin
Lakes Cruisers. Many of those cars and their owners participated
in the Saturday afternoon and evening Cruise Downtown Osage
City, an event hosted by Osage City’s Inside Track committee.
During that event, many people congregated while cars cruised
around a route in Osage City’s downtown, where the streets
were blocked off. A number of businesses kept their doors open,
offering afternoon specials. Inside Track committee volunteers
also offered other activities downtown.
Linton noted Osage City’s event could not have been a
success without willing volunteers’ involvement.
“I’m very, very pleased with my volunteers,”
Linton said, pointing to all the work accomplished in preparation
for the contest, volunteer effort ongoing during the contest
and events, and the labor needed to clean up afterwards.
“The barbecue teams and KCBS reps, they were very impressed
with our volunteers,” he said.