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KCBS Cooking Competition

‘Moonswiners’ return to Madison
as national champs

The Ky.-based team won the national event last fall

Kristi Whitehill
Staff Writer

(Aug. 9, 2008) – Madison Ribberfest’s defending champion pro barbecue cooking team Moonswiners is serious competitors against professional grillers worldwide, after having won here last year and taking the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue title last fall in Lynchburg, Tenn. The Moonswiners, from Taylorsville, Ky., consists of Chad and Christine Hayden. Sometimes Chad’s brother, Josh Hayden, joins them.

Chris, Evan, Mitchell, Mike and Emma Cammack

Photo by Kristi Whitehill

Wildcat BBQ team members from
left includes Chris, Evan, Mitchell,
Mike and Emma Cammack.

The team’s victory in the Kansas City Barbeque Society-sponsored competition in Madison last year earned it entry into the Jack Daniel’s event, in which 60 teams qualify. The entrants were from 15 different countries.
According to www.nationalbbqrankings.com, Moonswiners are currently ranked 29th nationally out of 2,282 teams. Moonswiners could move up in their national barbecue rankings if they repeat at the Madison Ribberfest. The professional barbecue annual ranking was created to keep a running total of points earned by teams across the country. In order to earn points, teams have to place in the top 10. The national rankings only recognize Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned events, making the Ribberfest a prime opportunity to earn points.
One week before the event, the duo will start packing up, trimming meat and checking their list. On Thursday, Chad and Josh will unpack, and Christine will do the administrative tasks.
The Moonswiners have been improving from last year, Chad said. “This year will be tweaking some basic ingredients that won last year.”
But they will have to keep a careful watch over their grill because a record 55 other teams will be trying to replace them atop the barbecue throne in Madison. This year’s pro cooking competition had 56 teams registered at press time, with a maximum limit this year set for 60 teams, according to Ribberfest director Kathy Ayers.
Teams pay $250 to enter the competition, which offers a prize purse totaling $12,000 over seven categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork, barbecue sauce, beef brisket, dessert and “anything but.” The winners, decided by certified KCBS judges, will be awarded their prizes at 4 p.m. Saturday inside the Brown Gym on Broadway Street.

ACME Barbecue Team Truck

Photo by Kristi Whitehill

The ACME Barbecue team’s pink
pig truck is a signature sight at
the Madison Ribberfest. Pictured
from left are team members
Pat Stack and Joe Craig.

In addition to money, the Grand Champion will earn a three-way chance in the drawing for the annual Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational event. Winners from the other two KCBS competitions in Fairfield and Beanblossom are also in the drawing to represent Indiana. The Grand Champions from all three Indiana cooking competitions are automatically in the KCBS’ annual American Royal competition in October in Kansas City.
Local team Pig Pak, which includes Mike DeShong, David Baratti, John Branigan and Merrill Nay, are entrants with many bragging rights. The most recent was the team’s winning Grand Champion at Dickson, Tenn., on May 28. The team was formed in 2002 at the first Madison Ribberfest, where they entered in both the amateur and pro divisions.
“We were hooked after the first competition,” Branigan said.
Currently, the team competes in up to 10 competitions a year. In the past they have earned the “Best of Jefferson County” award.
“The team will be using “proven recipes and improve on those recipes that are already a good product,” Branigan said.

Kansas City Barbeque Society Teams
for 2008 Madison RIbberfest
Team, Captain, Hometown
(Entered as of 8-7-08)

• ACME BBQ, Joe Craig, Madison, Ind.
• Bubba’s Tennessee Smokers, Wayne Abrahms, Clarksville, Tenn.
• Buttrub.com, Bryon Chism, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
• Divine Swine, Jesse Gabbard, Lexington, Ky.
• Double D’s BBQ, Dallas Packer, Hudson, Ohio
• Eagle River BBQ, Mike Grammer, Dayton, Ohio
• ExFedBBQ of Indiana, Emmett Charles, Martinsville, Ind.
• Falls City Smokers, Wendell Thomas, Smithfield, Ky.
• Fowl Butt BBQ, Jason Kreigh, Decatur, Ind.
• Green Eggs&Ham, Scott Murr, Yorktown, Ind.
• Grill Sergeants, George Givens, Indianapolis
• Hickory Flats BBQ, Paul Everman, Versailles, Ind.
• Hogheads BBQ, Danny Broughton, Pittsboro, Ind.
• Hoosier Crawdaddy, Doug Searcy, Straughn, Ind.
• Indiana Bones, Shayne Campbell, North Vernon, Ind.
• Indianabarbeque.com, John Richert, Indianapolis
• Indy Smokehouse BBQ, Tony Hunter, Indianapolis, Ind.
• Jimmy’s Hog Pen, Jim Weaver, Centerville, Ohio
• Juicy Butts BBQ, Kevin Manring, Palmyra, Ind.
• KC’s Pork Pitt, Dan Cleary, Trafalgar, Ind.
• Lawn Pigs BBQ, Robert Helton, Deputy, Ind.
• Lawney’s BBQ, Lawney Francis, Warsaw, Ind.
• Making Meat BBQ, Rick McClain, Carmel, Ind.
• Monty Pigthon & The Holy Grill, Sid Wibbels, Fisherville, Ky.
• Moonswiners, Chad Hayden, Taylorsville, Ky.**
• Packin’ Heat, James Oaks, Lexington, Ky.
• Perry Brothers & Sons Bar-B-Q, Dale Perry, Crestwood, Ky.
• Pig Pak, Merrill Nay, Madison, Ind.
• Pirates of the Grill, Fred Larson, Mooresville, Ind.
• Porker’s Stern, Alex Gift, Prospect, Ky.
• Port of John’s BBQ, Jon Silveus, Granger, Ind.
• Quau, Beth Wozniak, Brimfield, Ill. **
• R Gang, Ron Taylor, Madison, Ind.
• Rib Runners, Ron & Jan Yater, Martinsville, Ind.
• Ribberbest BBQ, Shawn Auxier, Madison, Ind.
• Rinky Dink Smokers, Rick Callahan, Greensburg, Ind.
• RoadWarriors BBQ, Jim Bath, Appleton, Wis.
• Rolling Smoke Barbecue, Jim Ferguson, Fairborn, Ohio
• Seymour Smokin’ Butts, Donovan Blanton, Seymour, Ind.
• Shigs-In-Pit, Todd Grantham, Fort Wayne, Ind.
• Shoe Me Your Bones, Robert Gatts, Indianapolis
• Smoke Hawgs, Rick Reynolds, Lousiville, Ky.
• Smokin’ Irish, Tom Donnellon, Cincinnati
• Smokey River BBQ, Roger Mogg, Spiceland, Ind.
• Sonny Ja’s, Jason Merkel, St. Anthony, Ind.
• Stink-Eye BBQ, Jim Caldwell, Morgantown, Ind.
• The Flying Burritos, Chris Bieker, Celestine, Ind.
• Ulcer Acres BBQ, Randy Twyford, Jacksonville, Ill.
• Unky Doo BBQ, Tony O’Neil, Charlestown, Ind.
• Wildcat BBQ, Chris Cammack, Madison, Ind.
• Zack’s, Mike Weeks, Franklin, Tenn.
• ZZ-Que, Steve Creech, Columbus, Ind.

** = Past Grand Champion

One week before the event, Pig Pak will do a complete run through of what they will be doing at Ribberfest, complete with a barbeque party.
On Thursday, all four team members will set up the RV and select a cook site.
Shawn Auxier, who has chaired Madison’s KCBS competition ever since it began in 2002, this year has decided to compete in the event. Therefore, he cannot serve as chairman.
Auxier’s team, RibberBest, is not new to competition. Auxier and his two brothers, Darrell and David, have competed for the last five years in various events around the country. Shawn has worked on all sides of the competition: competing, organizing and judging.
“I wanted to be a competitor this year – not to organize it, but to cook in it,” he said. His approach is to “use what I have done locally.”
Joe Craig of the ACME BBQ team this year is moving up from the amateur Backyard BBQ Blast to the pro level. “The major difference is fine tuning the quality of the meat. Not only fine tuning but also more time to prep the entry and put together the display for the meat,” he said.
The team competed in the first Ribberfest and decided, “We like meat, like fire, like eating.” With this commonality, a team was formed.
In addition to Craig, ACME BBQ’s team consists of Pat Stack, Paul Rosenberg, Dave Butler, Mike Dorsey and Adam Craig. They decide how much meat to order and which spices to use.
Wildcat BBQ also started as amateurs. Chris Cammack and his father, Mike, were spurred by chance and the advertisement for the first Ribberfest.
“I thought it would just be cooking some ribs; really it was so much more,” Chris said.
After researching how much more was involved and after making a smoker from scratch, Wildcat BBQ was on fire, earning a first prize award in brisket, which they had never cooked before. After looking at what the other cookers looked like, Wildcat BBQ invested in a cook shack model with a hopper.
“The competition is laid back but hectic if you cannot find something,” Chris said.
Mike Cammack said they don’t mind telling people everything they do because “the secret is in the rub.”
The competition is not only for winning titles but also for points toward the national point system making the level of competition intense.
Pig Pak’s Branigan said, “The KCBS circuit has powerful competition against teams featured on the Food Channel and against people doing 80 events a year.”
The event organizers are prepared for heat, rain and cool.
“We have misting tents ready to go if the weather gets hot,” Ayers said. “There is also free water and red cross set up as well.”

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