MASON CITY | Pig Skin BBQ of Rockwell has competed for nine years in the Up in Smoke BBQ Bash, picking up three Reserve Champion trophies as well as other prizes.

However, Saturday was the first time the husband-and-wife team of Scott and Katy Nelson won it all at the Mason City event. 

Scott said he was "overwhelmed with joy" that Pig Skin BBQ won the Grand Champion trophy.

Up in Smoke is only the second event the Nelsons have competed in this year as they recently started their own catering business, also named Pig Skin BBQ.

But no matter how busy they are, "We will always come to Mason City," Scott said.

Up in Smoke is not only close to home, but "the camaraderie is always amazing," he said. 

The setting in East Park "is like nothing else," Scott said. "It's a fun contest."

The organizers of the event do a great job, he added.

In addition to cooking for the contest on Saturday, Pig Skin BBQ — wearing the catering hat — served 300 people at the Thrivent Financial Party at Up In Smoke. 

Katy wasn't able to stay for the awards ceremony because she was making dough for pizza in preparations for an Up In Smoke after-party for 70 people. Scott texted her throughout the awards ceremony.

"It's been a busy day," he said.

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This year's Reserve Champion was Iowa Smokey D's BBQ of Des Moines. Whitewater BBQ of Dover, Minnesota, placed third overall and won the Howard Query Newbie trophy as the highest-ranking first-time team in the contest. 

"it's been a great weekend," said Ruth Miller, Bash coordinator and Globe Gazette marketing manager. "I am so proud and thrilled to have 50 teams here, making us again the largest (barbecue) contest in Iowa."

The cooks donated lots of leftover food to Community Kitchen of North Iowa, according to Miller.

"Those who participate in barbecue contests are fabulous, fabulous people," she said. 

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