Rain could not put out the fire of 12 teams that competed in the Eastpoint Volunteer Fire Departments Rib Cook-off.
The day started at 6 a.m. for most teams with rain coming down hard. As fires were being lit, strategies were being changed on how to deal with the weather, but by the 9 a.m. cooks meeting the rain had subsided and the sun started peeking thru the clouds.
After detailed instructions and a few laughs given by Eastpoint Fire Chief George Pruett, the teams set out on their way to try to bring home the bragging rights of being the best rib cook in the area.
The big winner of the day was Richard Wade with Big Top Supermarket who took the blue ribbon for his succulent offering, and $100 cash prize. Second place went to Team Crum from Bristol, and Andrew Pruett came in third. The ApalachicolaBay Chamber of Commerce received an honorable mention.
It was a very tight competition with only a five-point spread between first place that received 84 of 100 possible points, and honorable mention with 79.
After winning the cook-off a dozen years ago, Wade waited 11 more years before again taking home the top prize.
“I got my first place back,” said Wade, who works as the butcher at the Big Top. “I cooked a better rib than everybody else out there, according to the judges anyway.”
He described his ribs as “not real saucy. They got a unique flavor to it, from the flavor profile I put on my rub.
“I use five or six different spices,” he said. “I don’t put it all at one time; I layer it.”
When the fire department opened the doors to start selling food at 11 a.m., hundreds of rib and barbeque lovers showed up to the event, despite the rain in the first part of the morning.
The volunteers and firemen had spent the entire week cooking the pulled pork, ribs and chicken. Some of the cook teams who were raising money for the fire department were selling food as well.
By 11:30 a.m. the entertainment started. Hobson Fulmer and Charles Elliott were first to take the stage in their first “gig.” Then “Despite the Irony” played the rest of the day up until the liar’s contest that took place at 3 p.m.
The fire department sold out the food they prepared and the silent auction, boasting of over 100 items donated by local businesses, raised thousands of dollars. Pruett said they are still tallying the money which funds the Eastpoint volunteer fire department.
The liars contest had a great turnout of seven competitors. A storytelling contest, it is judged by the crowd’s reaction to the stories that are told. Dawn and Richard Radford, both former champions of the contest, were in attendance, marking the first time in a few years they competed against each other. The competitors told their stories for the enjoyment of the crowd, one by one, each trying to outdo the other. Once they all were done, by crowd applause the winners were announced by Pruett. First place went to John Solomon. Dawn Radford was second and Michele Hicks was a close third.
The Inglorious Basters Karl Lucy and Jim Joyner were winners of the Best Rib Display this year, with their lighthouse -nspired booth.
The People’s Choice went to The Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce, assisted by former members of 10-4 BBQ and chamber board members. The team sold half-chickens and ribs and raised over $300 for the fire department. Second place was the Inglorious Basters.