The 27th annual Hillbilly BBQ Cookoff drew a large crowd of spectators and contestants. The event was held Friday and Saturday at the Laurie fairgrounds.

The 27th annual Hillbilly BBQ Cookoff drew a large crowd of spectators and contestants. The event was held Friday and Saturday at the Laurie fairgrounds.

An official Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned event, there were $6,700 dollars in cash prizes awarded, and the grand champion snagging a coveted invite to the American Royal BBQ Championship in Kansas City.

Most teams hailed from Kansas City and other parts of Kansas. There was a team from Nebraska, a few from the lake area and Springfield. The farthest distance traveled for two teams was Texas and Minnesota.

Friday night, contestants entered chicken wings for judging and then distributed to the public. A beer garden with live band entertained the crowd, followed by the famous “Buck A Duck” race that rushes downstream through the fairgrounds park.

Saturday morning was all business, as teams had manned smokers all night as they prepared for the first round of judging. It kicked off early for the kids with the junior competition starting at 10:00 a.m.. Barbara Wood, Hillbilly BBQ Cookoff Chairman was pleased with the competition team turnout. Every half hour, Wood, alongside sanctioned KCBS event organizer Ed Young, received dozens of entries in different categories.

One young contestant, Tyler Branstetter, entered the kids category with his glazed smoked pork, resting on a bed of strawberry and pineapple garnish. Tyler is already a pretty seasoned chef at 10 years old. He lives on a farm in Barnett, with his parents Mike and Gabe Branstetter. He raises sheep, and cooks and sells lamb burgers from his farmstand every Friday at the Eldon Farmers Market. He attended the cookoff with his grandparents Robin and Eric Burkhart with Team Uncle Bub’s. It turned out to be a good weekend for their team. The Burkharts received the Grand Champion ribbon for the event, receiving a $1,000 dollar cash prize and invite to the American Royal BBQ competition in Kansas City. Tyler netted a fourth place ribbon in the kids bbq competition.