14th Annual Ozark Hawg BBQ Championship Is Finger Lickin' Good!

March 27, 2004 -- Posted at 6:10 p.m. CST

BATESVILLE -- The Natural Born Grillers, Hogapalooza and the Wizards of 'Que...some famous names in a sport that's getting more and more attention....bar-b-que cooking!

It's no secret, bar-b-que is big business in the south and Saturday's competition was smokin' at the 14th annual Ozark Hawg BBQ State Championship in Batesville.

"We've got a lot of champion teams out there, the competition is very hot, but not heated!" laughed Dr. Paul Hance, Judging Chair for the Kiwanis Club.

Saturday's cook off raised more than $10,000 for the Batesville Kiwanis Club, and during the last 14 years, the club has raised nearly $200,000 dollars for children in the community.

Cookers from seven states served up what they thought was the best, but it was ultimately up to the judges to make that decision.

"You have to be open to constructive criticism, because your product is being judged, you have to have a competitive streak....and most certainly because it's a team effort, you have to be able to play well with others," said Dr. Hance.

Judging all of this BBQ is no easy task. Trained judges come in from as far away as Washington, D.C. to make the tough decision to decide who will become the next Arkansas Grand Champion.

Carolyn Moffatt is a certified BBQ judge and said, "Everybody may have individual taste, so what I might like, the next judge might not like as well. But you do have certain things you judge on like the tenderness or appearance, you know your pretty stated on those, but taste is something that is individual."

Jonesboro's own Top Deck Grillers said it was defiantly a learning experience.

"This is our first competition, and it was a real learning experience that's for sure. We showed up here kind of blind sided on this thing, not really knowing what's going on. but a lot of good cooks out here that helped us a whole lot on this stuff," laughed Anthony Ditta.

The group stayed up all night cooking and made their presentation this afternoon.

"You stand out here all night keeping your grill going, you got to keep your grill at a set temperature, keep your meat going, if your mopping or basting or rubbing, what ever your doing, you got to keep all that moving," said Ditta.

And the secret to good Bar-B-Que?

"We don't know yet! We got to find out, some of these other people out here know!" laughed Ditta and the group from Top Deck Grillers.

What ever the secret is, it's pretty good....the winners from today's event will represent the state of Arkansas at the Memphis in May 2005 contest. They also will receive an invitation to the Kansas City Royal Cook off and to the coveted Jack Daniel's invitational in Lynchburg, Tennessee.