Louie’s Finer Meats, of Cumberland, with the Rice Lake Lions Club, were voted winner of the people’s choice award at the first-ever Blue Hills BBQ Fest on Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, held at the Barron County Fairgrounds in Rice Lake.

Attendees could try food from Almena Meats, Old Southern BBQ, Louie’s Finer Meats (served by Rice Lake Lions Club) and Prairie Lake Meats (served by Cookin’ Up a Storm).

Logan and Amber Dwyer, of Prairie Lake Meats and Having Hills Rolling Acres Farm, provided fresh chicken and brisket to Cookin’ Up a Storm. Logan explained that Havin Hills is a portmanteau of his grandparent’s names, Irvin and Harriet Taplin.

Blue Hills BBQ Fest Organizer John Blaskowski said attendance was just under 2,000. “I’ve had hundreds of positive comments from Facebook, the crowd, vendors, the professional grillers, and the judges. They all hope we bring it back next year,” Blaskowski said. “Considering this was our first year with this event, based on feedback, ticket sales, and participation from cookers as far away as Arizona and Colorado, I consider the Blue Hills Bar-B-Q was a success.”

Several drawings were held. Winning a Green Mountain Jim Bowie Pellet Grill (donated by Louie’s Finer Meats) was Tom Robarge, of Rice Lake. Winning a Weber Rocky Mountain Cooker/Smoker (donated by Farm & Fleet) was Del Smith, of Rice Lake. Winning a 50/50 raffle was Kim Schaeppi, of Maplewood, Minn.

Nineteen teams compete

Nineteen teams competed in a sanctioned Kansas City Barbecue Society competition. Thirty-one judges tried the barbecue chicken, ribs, pork butt and brisket, and awarded points for the best barbecued meats.

Also, there was $6,375 awarded in prize money.

The top teams for each category, along with the unofficial scores, are as follows:

• Chicken: Tom McIntosh with T-Mac Smokin’, of Sturgeon Bay, 175.4172

• Pork Ribs: David Dicke, with Second Hand Smoke, of Appleton, 177.7372

• Pork: Mark Mann, with Get a Clue BBQ, of Glendale, Ariz., 173.1428

• Brisket: Tom McIntosh, with T-Mac Smokin’, 173.12.

• Overall grand champion was Chad Cooke, with The Smokin’ C’s BBQ, of Grafton, 677.0628. The reserve champion was Pigtailers BBQ, 674.2172

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