Cook-off fans flames of BBQ interest
Robert "Sparky" Sparks really likes to smoke. But when he lights up, the only thing burning is hardwood, charcoal and the choicest meats.
Sparks and his wife, Sharon, competed against four other teams in the first-ever Doc and Bruties barbecue cook-off Saturday at Zimmerman's Kill Creek Farm. The cook-off was limited to non-professional cooks, who entered in three categories: ribs, chicken and slice meat of choice.
Sparks said Saturday's cook-off was his first competition.
"I've experimented on the family for the last umpteen years," he said. "They said it was time for something competitive, so I said, 'Why not?'"
Although the De Soto resident could have opted for the warmth of his home before a day of cooking, he decided to make an event out of it. He and his wife arrived at 5:30 p.m. last Friday, set up his grill and spent the night in a tent at Zimmerman's Farm, braving the cool temperatures and turning the cook-off into more of a mild-mannered party.
"This is all part of it," Sharon Sparks said. "Plus, we were the only ones here with a keg."
Robert said his interest in smoking meats came largely from being on the road with his job. As a railroad foreman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, he would often take a grill with him not only to cook but also to pass time during slow periods.
"It was just like the truck is now," pointing to his pickup backed up to his cooking area. "I'd drop the tailgate and get cooking."
His interest was shared among the salivating watchers as the Sparks and their competitors worked their cook-off magic.
Contestants entered all three categories and the winner was selected by overall ranking of all three categories. Saturday's winner was Bryan Hanson, De Soto. Sparks took second place and Mike Fowler, De Soto, took third.
Doc and Bruties co-owner Denny "Doc" Hougham said he was pleased with the turnout and said the community could look forward to more cook-offs in the future. He said he planned another barbecue cook-off for next year.
"We learned a lot for our first year, and I see this becoming a huge attraction for Doc and Bruties, the Zimmerman Farm and De Soto itself," Hougham said. "Where there's lots of smoke, you'll probably find some pretty good barbecue."