The 17th annual Barbecue on the River Festival begins tonight. The festival is full of food and fun, but also some pretty cool history and interesting characters. Here is a look at the 42 teams who are competing at the festival this year, including some home-town favorites and teams from as far away as California.
This Memphis-based team is going into its 10th year at Barbecue on the River. They are coming off of a performance that won them first place in the pork shoulders contest, and second place in ribs, but their best seller isn’t a judged item — it’s their barbecue nachos.
Team Members: Steven Gann, Terry Bishop, and Monica Bishop.
Charity:Family Service Society.
Bar BQ Express
This will be Bar BQ Express’s fifth year in the competition. The team, which is family based out of their restaurant in Ledbetter, has won several awards for the pork shoulders over the years, but they find their barbecue wraps, pulled pork and cheese on a tortilla, are their best sellers.
Team Members: Anna Watkins, Daniel Walls, Sherry Thorn, Keith Thorn, Jerry Walls.
Charity: Children’s Miracle Network
Big D’s Dairyette
Big D’s has been coming to Barbecue on the River for 12 years. They were reserve champions in 2008, winning first place for pork shoulders the same year. Along with traditional barbecue, they also sell ham and pork on a stick, which team leader Roy Bohannon says is perfect for walking with.
Team Members:Roy Bohannon, Kevin Record, Daryl Tilford.
Boudin Man BBQ
Based out of Louisiana, the Boudin Man BBQ team is making its second appearance at the festival. They won for chicken and shoulders in 2009 but didn’t make the trip in 2010. Team leader R.D. Quebodeaux says the team comes up to Paducah because the festival is a lot of fun, and they enjoy the family atmosphere.
Team Members:Sheldon Detroussord, Chip Stienbing, Hank Santos, David McMumar, and R.D. Quebodeaux.
Buzzard Brothers BBQ
The Buzzard Brothers have been cooking at Barbecue on the Rivers since its inception. Most of their founding members are retired and team leader Louis Kirchhoff says they have brought on some new, younger members this year to help them through the weekend. The two-time grand champions sell 3.25 tons of barbecue each year.
Team Members:Louis Kirchhoff, David Reed, Richard Flowers, John Rottering, Rich Allhouse, Bernie Bass, Russ Ogden, Nathan Brown, Bark Brown, Josh Ryan, John Edwards, and John Carpenter.
Charity:St. Paul Lutheran Church
Draper’s barbecue is based out of a small family restaurant in Bardwell. The team recently began bottling its own sauces, and have a long list of awards at Barbecue on the River
Team Members:led by Shane Draper
Charity:Child Watch Children’s Advocacy Center.
Good Ole Boys BBQ
The Good Ole Boys team was at the original Barbecue on the River, and has been named grand champion once. They are especially famous for their ribs, which often have crowds lining up around their booth.
Team Members:led by Dale Perry.
Charity: Good Ole Boys Scholarship - WKCTC
The Hardwood Gang has a pretty interesting backstory: A man named Don Smallwood came up with the idea to cook in the competition to aid his church, and passed away the day before the team’s first year in Barbecue on the River. Eight years later, team leaders Larry Rudesill and Gary Walls are still cooking in his honor. Rudesill says the team is pretty proud of their whole hog, which has won first place on three seperate occasions. Last year, they won third place in pork shoulders.
Team Members:Larry Rudesill and Gary Walls.
Charity: New Life Apostolic Tabernacle.
Happy’s Chili Parlor & BBQ
Although Happy’s used to be based out of Paducah, members are now driving almost 2,000 miles to compete in Barbecue on the River. Team leader Eugene Thomas Jr. is the son of Eugene “Happy” Thomas, who was shot and killed in front of his home in 1998. The team is cooking in honor of him, and in honor of their restaurant, which has been a part of the family since 1929.
Team Members: Eugene Thomas
Charity: Harrison Street Baptist Church
J-Mack Cookers is the four-time defending champion, but don’t think that the team is resting on tits laurels. Team leader John Ford said that the competition at Barbecue on the River is as open as could be, and it all depends who is hot at the moment of judging. Last year, they won top honors for their pork shoulders, second place for chicken and third place for their whole hog.
Team Members: John Ford, Melinda Ford, Christie Houser, Katherine Tapscott, Jay Tapscott, and Todd Hapscott.
Charity: Carlisle County Rescue Squad
Larry Darrell and Darrell
As five-time grand champions, Larry Darrell and Darrell knows what it takes to make great barbecue. The team, which has been at the festival since it was started, happened into the competition by chance but has proven itself a winner. Last year, they took home third place for chicken and second place for whole hog.
Team Members: James Stovall, Pete Jackson, Tom Wimbly, Paulene Burnett, Theresa Wagner, and Sheila Carpenter.
Charity: American Red Cross - Paducah Chapter
The 2011 Barbecue on the River Festival will be the Lenny’s BBQ team’s fourth year in the competition, but team leader Lenny Hohlbein says they are still a force to be reckoned with. Hohlbein said the team, which is based out of their Fulton restaurant, is “up with the rest of them” in the competition.
Team Members: Lenny Hohlbein, Debbie Dedmon, Kyler Hohlbein, Lacey Hohlbein, Lane Hohlbein, Eric Maddox, Tim Ewing, and Mable Martin.
Charity: New Life Restoration Center
Martha’s Vineyard & Backwoods Barbecue
Charity: Martha’s Vineyard
Porky’s Pit is another team that has been at Barbecue on the River since the beginning, and team leader Jim Cooper has been a barbecuer since he was nine years old. The family used to have a restaurant in Paducah, but now serves barbecue in Cadiz. They are known for their huge porkchops, which they will be selling at their tent.
Team Members: Jim Cooper, Gene Cooper, Tara Lasley, Eustacio Mejia, Franklin Farley.
Charity: Ballard Memorial Project Graduation
Last year, Rib-Tastic won second place in both the whole hog category and pork shoulders category. In its 11th year at Barbecue on the River, the team doesn’t have a favorite award as they have won at least once in each category.
Team Members: Jimmy Travelstead and Sarah Travelstead.
Charity: James Cobb Medical Fund.
This is the Ohio-based team is coming to the festival for the first time, although they have done competitions in the area. Their Cleveland-area restaurant has catered to the area’s professional sports teams and is famous for their charcoal-smoked ribs. Along with traditional barbecue, The Smoke Shack will be selling a pulled pork sundae — beans and coleslaw topped with barbecue pork and sauce.
Team Members: Lamarr Marshall, Carolyn Marshall, Mike Armstrong, Preston Marshall, Kolin Marshall, and Kyle Marshall.
Charity: Barbecue on the River
Smokin’ Hose Grillin’ Team
The Smokin’ Hose team was last year’s reserve champion, and won first place awards for their chicken and their ribs. Team member Shane Cornwell says their barbecue has a “little bit of a burn.” This year, Cornwell says they have tinkered slightly and perfected their technique, something the team hopes will earn it top honors.
Team Members: Blaire Rudd and Shane Cornwell.
Charity: Cunningham Volunteer Fire Department
Smokey D’s Family Restaurant
This is Smokey D’s eigth year in the competition, although the team started as a backyard cooker before they opened a restaurant in La Center. They serve traditional barbecue, highlighted by their chicken and shoulders.
Team Members: David Smith, Justin Smith, Blake Walden, Benji Thresher and Nathan Hardaman.
Charity: Paducah Gymnastics Academ
This team has been there since the beginning, and is based out of Whaler’s Catch. They have won down at the festival plenty of times, and are proud of all of their traditional barbecue.
Charity: American Cancer Society
Balkis Temple #157
Charity: Oscar Cross Boys & Girls Club
Big Daddy’s BBQ
Last year the team took home second place among in the pork shoulders category.
Charity: Waldo Baptist Church Youth Group
Big Moe’s BBQ
Charity: Marshall County Hospital Relay for Life Team
Brother’s Barbecue is in it simply for the fun, team leader Mark Cope said. They have won awards for their chicken, but one of their best-kept secrets is their barbecue corn, which is grilled and seasoned to perfection.
Team Members: Mark Cope, Chuck Byerly, Randall Myer, Michael Mount and Rodney Gordon.
Charity: Masonic Charities
Certified Holy Smoke
Charity: Pathway Baptist Church
This team showed up for its first year with a 300-gallon fuel tank to raise money for the charity. Fast forward nine years, and Cookies Grill has become a team to pay attention to. They were second in ribs last year, and their shoe-string potato straws are one of the most popular at the festival.
Team Members: Jamie Beal, Neil Hogancamp, David Davis, Randy Williams.
Charity: Reidland Area Upward
As the name cleverly implies, Cookin’ Pigs is the official barbecue team of the Fraternal Order of Police. While they are with law enforcement as day jobs, the team has become one of the heavyweight backyard teams in recent years. They won second place in chicken in 2010, and are a year removed from their first-place showing in the whole hog category.
Team Members: Will Gilbert, Brian Kopischke, Don English, Harold Setzer, Jerry Byer, Danny Simms and Chad Shaw.
Charity: Fraternal Order of Police
The Hardwood Cafe team has raised more than $90,000 for the American Cancer Society in its five-year stint at the festival, but they although they do things for their charity they are no joke on the grill, either. Last year, they finished third in chicken, first in ribs, and first in whole hog.
Team Members: Chris Hargrove, Nathaniel Hargrove, Jeff Story, Denise Story, Clay Story, Larry Robinson, Faye Robinson, Tommy Johns, Dickie Johns, James Haley, Tammy Haley, Susie Story and Dom Lampley.
Charity: Friends & Kin Relay for Life
Heath Football Boosters
Charity: Heath Football Boosters
Charity: Reidland Day Care
Charity: Kentucky Sheriff’s Boys & Girls Ranch
Kiwanis Club of Paducah
First in chicken and third in pork shoulders.
Charity: St. Nicholas Free Clinic & Paducah Scholarship Endowment
Kooking with Kappas
The Kappas came in third in ribs last year.
Charity: Curtis Hixon - Charles Thomas Scholarship
Liberty Bell BBQ
Charity: American Lung Association
Charity: NAACP Paducah Branch
Ole’ Kountry BBQ
Charity: Community Kitchen of Four Rivers Church
Charity: Burks Chapel Brotherhood
Precision Machine Inc.
Charity: Boy’s Club
River City Rib Ticklers
Charity: Laurel Foundation
Tommy Q’s BBQ
Last year, the team finished first among backyard cookers in the pork shoulders category. Look for them to defend their title this year.
Charity: Paducah Bowling Association.
Washington Street Community Developement Corporation
Charity: Tool Time Tuesday’s
**All information is provided by the teams.