By David Lias
This year proved to be a good one for Team Spitfire – made up of Tim and Mary Olson, of Fargo, ND – at the annual Ribs, Rods and Rock ‘n Roll event held last weekend in Vermillion.
Saturday afternoon, after placing high in several categories of the Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned South Dakota BBQ Championship held Sept. 7 in Vermillion, the couple was presented the grand champion trophy and a check for $2,000.
The championship attracted 27 teams from across the country to Vermillion last weekend.
“We’ve been here four years in a row,” Tim said, with a tight grip on the heavy grand champion trophy. “Today was a great hardware day.”
Reserve grand champion honors went to Big T’z Q Crew. Charcoal Loungers placed third in the overall rankings.
Team Spitfire placed fourth in the chicken category, which was won by Big T’z Q Crew. The winner of the ribs category was Smokin Dinger. Spitfire placed sixth in that category.
Spitfire placed second in the pork barbecue category, surpassed by Woodward Barbecue, which garnered a perfect score of 180 points.
The winner of the brisket category was Leeps BBQ, followed by Charcoal Loungers. Spitfire placed third in that category.
In the overall ranking to name a grand champion, the scores received by each team in the chicken, ribs, pork and brisket categories of the competition are totaled, and the highest total score determines the winner.
Spitfire came out on top with a total overall ranking score of 689.66. Big T’z Q Crew was named reserve champion with a score of 688.51, followed by Charcoal Loungers with a score of 686.92.
“This is the one contest that we really, really wanted to win. It’s close to home for us, it’s sort of in our backyard, and we really wanted this one bad, and thank God, it happened,” Tim said.
The awards competition was held late Saturday afternoon, shortly after the Classic Car and Cycle Show and Shine, which drew a healthy crowd to Vermillion’s Main Street, had begun to wrap up.
The annual Ribs, Rods & Rock ‘n Roll event also offered a new Backyard BBQ Competition, which was won by Ron Eskens of Fordyce, NE, and his team, Ron-Za-BBQ-N. In a People’s Choice contest, Charcoal Loungers came out on top in both the chicken wings and pulled pork categories.
Ribs, Rods & Rock ‘n Roll is a Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) sanctioned event held annually in downtown Vermillion. Rids & Robs is the largest competitive barbeque event in the history of South Dakota. The primary purpose of the event is to expand and to promote a successful state event, to celebrate Vermillion’s rich barbeque history, and to welcome University of South Dakota students back to Vermillion.
Tim and Mary Olson own and operate the Spitfire Restaurant in Fargo. The couple decided to add barbecue to their restaurant’s menu a few years ago, and as they got better at preparing ribs and chicken using that method, they decided to go whole hog and hit the competition circuit.
“We started doing this in 2009,” Tim said, indicating it all started nearly on a whim.
“You know how long winters are up north. I ended up watching barbecue shows on TV, and thought, ‘hey, I want do barbecuing myself.’ And, with our restaurant in Fargo, we put everything together (to barbecue) in that restaurant before we actually started competing.”
He said perfecting the craft of barbecuing is a trial and error process. But particularly this year, the methods he and Mary have been using have turned out to be very successful.
“I really haven’t changed anything since we started in April. Sometimes, you just stick with it, and eventually, it pays off,” Tim said. “This is one contest we really wanted to do well at. It’s eluded us always, before, but this year was our year.
“Next year, it might not be (our year), but we’ll be back anyway. The organizers and everyone here make this such a fun event. We love it here,” he said.