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Justin McCabe (left) and John Hog of the Grand Champion team Boom Chicka Cow Cow stand with their trophy at the 16th annual Hanor Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ competition Saturday, April 24, 2021 in the Stride Bank Center. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

ENID, Okla. — Camaraderie and smoky barbecue aromas filled the air at Stride Bank Center as dozens of teams took part in this weekend’s 16th annual Hanor Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ.

The annual cook-off kicked off Friday with 31 Steak Cook-off Association cooks competing, then rolled into Saturday with 41 Kansas City Barbecue Society teams.

Event coordinator Lynne Benkendorf said she was thankful to be back to a more normal setting and see some of the best cooks roll into town.

“I’ve always said that it doesn’t have to be the quantity of teams, but the quality means a lot, and I’ve always been very fortunate and very pleased that Enid really gets some of the top of top and the best of the best,” Benkendorf said.

Teams like L C BBQ, The American Dream BBQ and Boom Chicka Cow Cow — this year’s overall winner, for the second year in a row — competed in the KCBS Master Series Team of the Year competition in Enid this weekend.

The winning Boom Chicka Cow Cow team, cooking partners John Hog and Justin McCabe, of Kansas City, Mo., came to compete for a third time, taking home first place in chicken, fifth place in brisket, sixth in ribs and 14th in pork.

They placed first last year and second in 2019.

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John Hog, of the Grand Champion team Boom Chicka Cow Cow, holds the winner’s trophy at the 16th annual Hanor Smokin’ Red Dirt BBQ competition, during an interview Saturday, April 24, 2021. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

“We love it down here,” Hog said after they won Saturday afternoon. “(Enid) is our favorite place to barbecue because of the hospitality, and they love our food.”

Their secret to winning with good barbecue is to know what the judges want in each state. Oklahomans, Hog said, aren’t as fond of spicy foods as other states, instead cooking their food with sweeter flavors.

Fred Robles with Rio Valley Meat, from Weslaco, Texas, learned this Saturday.

Rio Valley Meat took third overall — up two spots from 2020 — but placed 15th in chicken.

Robles said one of the comments he received was that the chicken was “too spicy.”

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Enid Noon AMBUCS bbq lunch Saturday, April 24, 2021 at the Stride Bank Center. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

“Barbecue is made to be simple — just cook it right,” Robles said as advice to cooks. “Don’t be too much of anything. Don’t be too sweet or too spicy ... Just middle-of-the-road barbecue.”

The five categories of food — chicken, ribs, pork, brisket and dessert — all are judged on a scale of 1 to 9 in three criteria: appearance, taste and tenderness.

Judge Sonya Chronister said it’s important for competitors to know their audience, and that in Oklahoma, a lot of judges like sweeter barbecue with a slight burn at the end, which she called “sweet heat.”

“That’s a lot of people’s favorite, is you can locate the heat, but it doesn’t burn your palate up so that it interferes with the rest of your judging,” Chronister said. “It’s pretty easy, when you’ve been judging for a while, you can really see the teams that are newer to it, because they haven’t figured that right balance out.”

Judges start by looking at the foods in the boxes, not knowing who made each one, and then tastes and scores it based on KSBS criteria.

After judging each item based on appearance, Jerry Allen smells and takes a bite out of the center, chews and swallows it to get the full taste and to judge each offering individually.

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Dr. Dwight Olson and Tammy Church (top) fix a carryout during the Enid Noon AMBUCS barbecue lunch Saturday, April 24, 2021 at the Stride Bank Center Grand Ballroom. (Billy Hefton / Enid News & Eagle)

“Then I take my score down, and then I go to the next piece and start all over again right from the very top,” Allen said. “I don’t compare it to the last piece that I ate. I don’t compare it to things that I’ve seen or tasted before.”

This year was the first time Happy Grillmore’s Joe and Holly Hewer, friends with Hog and McCabe also from the Kansas City area, competed in Enid. The two said they were blown away by the royal-like treatment from event coordinators and volunteers.

“Everybody’s friends because we’re all here for the same reason. We all have the same hobbies, the same interests, so it’s so easy,” Joe said. “We will definitely come back.”

Chronister, who volunteers as a judge, said she loves coming to Enid because of how well the cook-off is organized and because she enjoys seeing her “barbecue family.”

Benkendorf said the teams and volunteers are some of the reasons she’s kept doing the Red Dirt BBQ every year.

“All of them that come back, they’re just one big family, and it’s so much fun to see them,” she said. “All the teams are the salt of the earth, and ... they’ve become best friends over the years.”

The Top 10 overall winners were:

1. Boom Chicka Cow Cow

2. BnB BBQ

3. Rio Valley Meat

4. Clark Crew BBQ

5. Happy Grillmore

6. Buffalo’s BBQ

7.The American Dream BBQ

8. Gleaming the Que

9. 4 Legs Up BBQ

10. L C BBQ

Top five chicken series winners were:

1. Boom Chicka Cow Cow

2. BnB BBQ

3. Gleaming the Que

4. Movin’ The Chains

5. High I que

Ribs winners were:

1. Clark Crew BBQ

2. Backdraft BBQ

3. L C BBQ

4. BnB BBQ

5. Happy Grillmore

Pork winners were:

1. L C BBQ

2. Buffalo’s BBQ

3. Happy Grillmore

4. Rio Valley Meat

5. The American Dream BBQ

Brisket winners were:

1. Buffalo’s BBQ

2. Rio Valley Meat

3. Happy Grillmore

4. Hollow Q

5. Boom Chicka Cow Cow

Dessert winners were:

1. The American Dream BBQ

2. L C BBQ

w3. Chingon BBQ

4. Buffalo’s BBQ

5. Movin’ The Chains

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Kelci McKendrick is police and court reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. 
 
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for Kelci? Send an email to kelcim@enidnews.com.

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