Miles City to host Kansas City Barbeque-sanctioned cook-off on Saturday


The aroma of smoked beef, pork and chicken will be drifting through downtown Saturday, tantalizing the senses, as top barbequers use their skills to try to win the Miles City Cowtown Cook-off Saturday.

This is the first year for the cook-off, which is a part of the Miles City Mosquito Festival. It is a Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned event and Montana’s state championship of barbequing. Proceeds will go to the Miles City Soup Kitchen.

The barbequing will take place on the 10 block of North Sixth St. and the adjacent parking lots. 

The public is invited to visit with the teams during the cooking phase. 

“You can learn a lot of tips about barbeque,” said Trudy Winslow, president of the soup kitchen board and one of the organizers of the event.

Winslow and her husband attended a KCBS barbeque in Absarokee and enjoyed it so much that they went another year, too. 

“We had so much fun and it was so well organized. I knew Miles City could do this. I thought it would be a good fundraiser,” she said.

The event has been in the planning stages for nearly a year.

She said many people have put in “tons of hours” working on the cook-off, and local businesses offered much support.

“There were so many businesses that stepped up. We couldn’t have done this on our own, that’s for sure,” she said.

The competition has a few rules, but there are no rules on how contestants season their meat or how they make their sauce.

Chicken, pork ribs, pork (shoulder/butt, etc.) and beef brisket will be used.

Meats will be smoked on-site using wood, wood pellets or charcoal. Gas and electric cooking are prohibited.

Most of the contestants have multiple competitions under their belt, and some travel to a different competition every weekend, Winslow said.

As of Wednesday night, there were 17 teams that definitely will be competing in the cook-off. A few more may be added. The teams are from Miles City; Billings; Glendive; Casper, Wyo.; Sheridan, Wyo.; Douglas, Wyo.; Fargo, N.D.; Rolette, N.D.; Dakota Dunes, S.D.; Saskatchewan and other places. 

Three local teams will participate. Those cookers are Beau Lufborough (sponsored by Brawler Industries), John Kimball (sponsored by Ace Hardware) and Truman Bovee and his son Josh (sponsored by Airport Inn).  

Winslow said they want to see the cook-off be an annual event. For it to be sanctioned, they’ll have to have 24 contestants the second year. 

This year the competition is a state championship. In order to do this, the governor had to make a proclamation, and there had to be more than 15 competitors. 

Judging will take place Saturday afternoon. The meat will be judged on taste, appearance and texture.

The grand champion can go on to the national championship competitions. 

The top prize will be $1,500. There will be a total of $6,000 in prize money.

The gates will be open from about 4-9 p.m. for public tasting.

At the gates, tokens will be sold for $1 to be used for tasting samples at the different barbequers’ booths (one token per booth).

Part of that revenue will go to the soup kitchen and some will go to the contestants who offer samples, to help cover the cost of the meat.

There will be vendors and concession stands, including one booth for the soup kitchen.

The soup kitchen has been accepted in the 100KCBS Meals Mission, in which the KCBS is trying to feed 100,000 people. 

100KCBS is a new project and began on May 1. So far they have funded 14,000 meals. 

Mark Simmons, president of the KCBS, said KCBS members have “a heart for others.” In times of trouble, members often provide disaster relief by setting up smokers and provide food for those in need.

As part of the mission, KCBS pays each contestant to barbeque an additional pork butt, which the soup kitchen will sell at their concession stand (to raise money). Any extra meat will be served at the soup kitchen next week. 

“We’ll have world-class pork butt selling at our concession,” Winslow said.

(The soup kitchen also will be collecting canned and other non-perishable food at the event.) 

A street dance will follow at 9 p.m. In addition to the 10 block of North Sixth Street, the 500 and 600 blocks of Main Street will be closed.

Simmons said a Kansas City barbeque is traditionally “a sweet heat” - a red-based sauce with a little bit of heat.

He added that North Carolina barbeques usually have more vinegar, South Carolina has more mustard, Texas has more smoke and in Memphis they use a dry rub, with a sauce usually served on the side. 

Simmons came to Miles City with his wife, Donna, to train and certify judges. Training is not done at all the competitions, but the people here felt that there needed to be more certified judges in this area of the country.

While here, Simmons is looking forward to seeing if Montanans, who are known for their beef, have their own style of barbeque.

“I’m very excited to taste the beef here,” he said.