Music And BBQ Waft Through Warsaw

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
The tantalizing aroma of hot ribs and chicken filled the air at Drake Harbor on August 4th during the First Annual Taste of the Ozarks Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) Sanctioned Backyard BBQ Competition. Twenty teams with one to six members competed to win an overall prize pot of $1,000. They traveled from Desoto, Excelsior Springs, Overland Park, Kansas; Jefferson City and Republic, to name a few.
Twenty-eight judges picked ten winners in the Chicken category, five of which won prizes ranging from $25 to $100 each.  The top five were 1) Miller’s Barnyard BBQ, 2) Big Creek BBQ, 3) Condition One BBQ, 4) Crystal BBQ, and 5) Double Barrel BBQ’d. The top five winners in the Ribs category were 1) Charlie-Q, 2) Naughty Dog BBQ, 3) Just Smokin, 4) Big Creek BBQ, and 5) #teamhillbillybbq.
The Grand Champion was Miller’s BBQ, taking home $400; and Reserve Grand Champion was Big Creek BBQ, that took home $150.
Lynette Stokes, Executive Director of Benton County Tourism and Recreation, said that her organization and volunteers heard from teams, judges and attendees of the competition that “it was a great competition and beautiful venue.” She said they further stated that they can’t wait to come back next year.
The Smokin Toad’s BBQ team emailed Stokes, telling her “Thanks for the KCBS Backyard on Saturday! Had a blast and what a great place, right on the water.”
Meat inspections were performed for safety and to ensure that the meat was properly handled and stored. Inspections also ensured fairness in the competition. Meats could not be pre-cooked or pre-marinated prior to arriving at the contest and the inspection. The meats consisted of wild or farm-raised chicken, Cornish game hen and Kosher chicken. Pork ribs could be spare ribs, St. Louis cut pork ribs, or baby back ribs, and they had to include the bone.  Country Style ribs were prohibited. Fires had to be of wood, wood pellets or charcoal. No use of any tobacco products was allowed while handling meat. Chicken turn-in was at 3 PM and pork at 3:30 PM.
Running concurrently with the BBQ competition at the Harbor, but lasting a day longer, was the Second Annual Ozark Cigar Box Guitar Music Festival. People from all over Missouri and other states such as Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Washington and Illinois attended the event, many of them staying in local lodging overnight. Lynette Stokes said that there were double the attendees this year as there were last summer, or about 2,000 plus people.
Nine musicians played at the event including two nationally-recognized headliners Lazer Loyd and Travis Bowlin, who brought in their own followers. Listeners heard all genres of music over the weekend.
Vendors at the festival included 11 unique food vendors. Two sold BBQ, and others offered Italian ice, funnel cakes, kettle corn, fried treats, gumbo, root beer and more.  All eight retail vendors were required to sell handmade musical instruments. One of them brought 18 guitars and sold 14.
There was a Builder’s Contest (Build-Off) with five prizes awarded for Best Electric, Best Acoustic, Best Overall Handmade Instrument, Best in Show, Best Three-String and Best four-String. Sound was provided by DB Audio out of Sedalia.
“We want to thank our sponsors of the event,” said Stokes. “They were City of Warsaw, Main Street Spirits, Sterret Creek Marina, Campground and Motel, Casey’s General Store, State Farm Insurance, Statuary Gardens, C.B. Gitty and Hawthorn Bank, with  special thanks to Ye Old Treasure Chest and Bill’s Repurpose. These sponsors made it possible to have a free event.”
Stokes also thanked the volunteers who gave their time working in the heat making the festival run smoothly. 
“We couldn’t have a successful event without fantastic volunteers,” said Stokes.
The volunteers included the Marine Corps League (Leathernecks) of Warsaw, who provided overnight security, as well as local residents, the City of Warsaw employees and others who give of their time supporting tourism and community growth. Stokes said that both of the weekend events at Drake Harbor will take place again in August 2019.
Ryan Mackey, founder of the festival was quoted as saying “I’ve heard many comments from attendees the last two years about how beautiful the venue is, and one attendee said that this was the best festival in the country. I want to thank the City of Warsaw and Benton County Tourism for supporting the small dream that I had to bring the Cigar Box Guitar world to Warsaw.”