Craig BBQ event takes first 1st in Rocky Mountain region
For being a smaller community, Craig has plenty to boast about.
The most recent accolade is a first place finish in the 2012 Rocky Mountain BBQ Association CUP contest.
The Colorado State BBQ Championships in Craig — which was hosted at Loudy-Simpson Park in August — took first place for best event in the Rocky Mountain region.
Last year while competing for the first time Craig took second, missing first by a couple fractions of a point.
But not in 2012.
Craig’s event won with a score of 157.322 out of a possible 160 points.
George Rohrich, event coordinator and organizer, said there are about 20 events in seven states beginning in May or June and finishing up in September or October.
Cookers and judges are given evaluation forms to fill out and score the event.
Rohrich helped start the event here in Craig, which will take place for the fourth time in August 2013. He said he got involved because of a passion for barbecue.
“It’s a fun thing for the community and something we weren’t doing," he said. "It’s food related so everybody can participate, and we were able to attach it to a great cause.”
That great cause is the St. Michael kitchen, which serves meals to community members at no cost.
The event, which is nationally sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, is free for the community to attend, but Rohrich said they ask those who attend to bring donations of non-perishables or money.
Extra food from the event is also donated.
Rohrich said a competitor might cook four racks of ribs before cooking the perfect one to turn in for judging. But they only turn in about half a rack of ribs and those not turned in are given to the kitchen.
“It actually goes back to the community in a wonderful way to help those who are less fortunate right now,” Rohrich said.
Rohrich said the event — which takes place annually the first weekend of August — receives great support through monetary donations, services and other donations from the community. He said there is prize money for competitors, entertainment and some of the cookers sell their barbecue.
And Rohrich said some of the rigs the competitors bring are pretty impressive.
“We have a great time," Rohrich said. "We eat well, bands come out at night for entertainment and last year we had the balloon event in conjunction with our event for the first time."
Rohrich said it has been possible to host such a successful even because of the great team who put it all together. With three events under their belt, Rohrich said there is a core group of people who have been there since day one, making it happen.
That core group includes Rohrich, Shandy Deakins, Jennifer Riley, Amy Updike, Jim Ferree, David Mucha, Jeremy Browning, Renee Campbell, Val Rohrich, Kyle Miller, Daily Press publisher/editor Bryce Jacobson and others.
“It’s a really hard two- to three-day weekend," Rohrich said. "We’re working late but it gets to be a type of family like atmosphere, where folks working on the event staff are developing friendships with the teams who come back year after year, sampling and sharing stories. It’s a lot of fun."
Rohrich said many people aren’t aware of the difference between serious barbecue and casual grilling.
“BBQ is low and slow," Rohrich said. "According to the rules of the KCBS it has to be done on coal or wood. It’s the old fashioned way that provides that melt-in-your-mouth aspect. It’s an art, and that’s what’s neat about it.”
Rohrich said if you get down to the event early on Saturday morning, it’s just filled with smoke smelling of hickory.
Rohrich said he hopes the event will receive more attention because of all the positive things it brings to Craig.
“Hopefully we bring more people here, they stay at the hotels, they stay overnight, they eat at the restaurants, shop at the stores, they do all that stuff and it turns out to be a bigger event,” Rohrich said. “It’s more fun for the folks that live here, something of a choice. Another option for the first weekend of August.”
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or email@example.com