The first Homecoming Barbecue Cook-Off will bring the world of national cooking competitions to Vernon’s town square Sept. 5.

Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, the contest in Vernon will be a regional qualifier for the American Royal barbecue competition in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Jack Daniels barbecue cook-off in Tennessee.

Teams of cooks from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio will be involved in the competition.

Twenty teams of cooks will compete for a share of the $3,000 purse, and the grand champion team will be invited to the American Royal competition, which is the largest cooking competition in the nation. The winning team also qualifies to vie for a spot in the Jack Daniels competition.

Vernon was chosen as a site for regional competition because organizers invited the Kansas City Barbeque Society to be a part of the 2015 Vernon Homecoming weekend, which is Sept. 5 and 6.

“Every year, the KCBS hosts over 400 barbecue competitions at events in places across the nation and even the world. One of your local barbecuers, Kevin Dougherty, asked the KCBS to consider coming to Vernon. They took a look at it and decided it was something they could take part in, so here we are,” said Schuetz, a barbecue society organizer and judge.

The society was organized in Kansas City in 1985 as a way for people who were interested in barbecue to learn new techniques and have fun, Schuetz said. Since then, the society has grown into the largest cooking organization in the country with more than 20,000 members. Its mission is to educate and promote barbecue as a truly American cooking technique, sport and art form.

The competing teams of cooks will begin arriving in Vernon on Sept. 3. Teams will bring their own smokers or grills. No gas grills will be permitted, only charcoal, wood or pellet burning grills and smokers.

“Some of the grills are custom made smokers that cost many thousands of dollars. Others are just old oil drums turned into smokers. Sometimes, the barbecue cooked on an expensive smoker wins, and sometimes the cook that used a crude smoker wins. It’s all in the technique. That’s what makes it fun,” Schuetz said.

Each team will prepare barbecue chicken, pulled pork, pork ribs and beef brisket. The teams are responsible for bringing their own meat, and the meat is thoroughly inspected before the cooking begins. All the cooking teams will gather for dinner and a social hour the evening of Sept. 4, and then begin cooking by 10 p.m.

“They will cook all night,” Dougherty said.

Judging will begin around noon Sept. 5, and awards will be presented at 4 p.m.

“This is a big deal for Vernon, and we want to do everything right so the KCBS will come back next year and the year after,” Dougherty said. “Come on down and share in the fun.”

Local participants


Bad Boys BBQ, Hope

Big JT’S, Columbus

ZZ-Q, Columbus


Dan Hurst, Columbus

Ann Hurst, Columbus

Frank Souza, Columbus

Carolyn K. Souza, Columbus

For more information