MASON CITY — For Porky Butts BBQ, the first time was the charm.
The team from Omaha, Nebraska, which had never competed in the Up In Smoke BBQ Bash in Mason City before, was named the grand champion of the event Saturday.
The team also captured the Newbie Award, which has been renamed the Howard Query Newbie Award. Query, the publisher of the Globe Gazette, the main sponsor of the Bash, died in September 2015.
Porky Butts BBQ has only been competing for three years, but it’s currently the top-ranked barbecue team in the world.
“My father competed (in barbecue competitions) when I was a kid,” said Blane Hunter of Porky Butts BBQ.
Then one day Hunter, a chef who runs the corporate hunting lodge for Werner Enterprises, “got the barbecue bug” and started competing himself.
He attributed the team’s quick rise in the barbecue world to “just practicing.”
Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ of Des Moines was the reserve grand champion, while The Wicked Pig of Norwalk placed third overall.
Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ has competed in the Bash for about eight years.
The Bash is such a great event that “it doesn’t matter what we score,” said Sherry Warth of Iowa’s Smokey D’s.