Laura and Jimmy Crenshaw pose with Up In Smoke’s winning trophy. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]
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Cold day, hot ribs, warm hearts

It was cold, a little rainy, not the best day for an outdoor event.

But that didn’t stop the backers of the Eastpoint Volunteer Fire Department from coming out Saturday for the 23rd annual charity rib cookoff.

Matt Parfitt, left, a member of the fire department, and Eastpoint resident Susan Farmer handle the pork round frying duties. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

And it didn’t stop the nine competing teams from taking their tastiest shot at the $1,000 top prize, and the $750, $500 and $250 checks for second, third and honorable mention.

It turned out to be close, with scores ranging from 79 to 76, with just a single point separating the places.

Ira Kelly, from Bayshore Porkers, samples his rib entry. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

In the end, it was how a St. George Island businessman handled a slab of ribs from the Big Top (teams had to bring their own this year, unlike past years when the fire department provided them) that won the whole thing.

Jimmy Crenshaw, owner of Forgotten Coast Pools, said he altered some of his usual ingredients, a different arrangement of salt and pepper and a touch of garlic, to grill his ribs for his Up In Smoke team. He worked alongside his St. George Island friend Jay Humphrey, from Jay BBQ, as the two men competed solo.

Standing next to their tents was a 50-year-old 18-inch avocado green Weber kettle made by the legendary George Stephen, as well as a vintage sign that Stephen used to use, emblazoned on it “Danger Men Cooking.”

The Jay’s BBQ team completed alongside this 50-year-old 18-inch avocado green Weber kettle made by the legendary George Stephen, as well as a vintage sign that Stephen used to sport on his road shows. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

“They would travel with it when they did road shows in the ‘50s and ‘60s,” said Humphrey. “They’re highly collectible.”

Crenshaw edged out the runner-up Locked Out, while Richard Wade’s Brag-N-Bones team won third place after scoring a tad better in a tiebreaker with John Solomon’s 10-4 team, which received an honorable mention.

Richard Wade prepares to plate his Brag-N-Bones entry. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

Solomon also won the coveted People’s Choice award, for raising $766 for the fire department, ahead of Ira Kelly’s Bayshore Porkers, who tallied $380 in contributions.

John Solomon surveys his 10-4 ribs, which won the People’s Choice and took honorable mention in the cook-off. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

The 10-4 team also had the best rig, looking spiffy in red, especially when compared to many of the damp other tents and trailers.

The early rain had dampened other aspects of the cookoff as well, lowering the attendance on the silent auction. But people came by all day to buy 1,250 pounds of ribs and 40 Boston butts and loads of chicken dinners, and savor apple dumplings and fried pork rinds, called “dragon skins.”

Andy and Charlene Dickens, from Double D Smokers out of Anderson, Georgia put the finishing touches on their rib entry. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

Firing up the grills provide to be a challenge, as competitors such as Ty Gillikin, with Eastpoint’s Most Wanted, had to abandon his pellet-fed grill, broken down for the occasion, and go with the good old Kingsford model. Solomon had a similar soggy problem he had to overcome.

The truth didn’t come out in the Liar’s Contest, as Royce Rolstad bested Steve Roblee for the honors.

Jackson and Whitney Wells, with Big Baer’s BBQ out of Cordele, Georgia, get ready to plate their entries. He’s an electrician and she’s an operating room nurse, and the couple was competing only for their second time. In their first outing, in Tifton, Georgia, they took second in ribs out of 38 teams. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

Fire Chief George Pruett said dinner sales were remarkably good for most of the day and that the event should reap some needed funds for the 10-person department, with five first responders.

“Our roster strength could be 20,” he said. “Having even more than that wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all.”

Mike and Jenny Johnson perform at the rib cookoff. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

County Commissioner Jessica Ward and husband Jim, at left, serve up dinners alongside Lynn Martina. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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