The Smoke on the Water barbecue contest at Crooked Creek Campground in Gaines featured seven teams competing head to head with winners being determined by the votes of individual campers. A $5 wristband enabled campers to sample pulled pork from each competitor and then rate each on a scorecard from 1-5, five being the best.
As the barbecue competition got underway Saturday afternoon, the local contestants had their own unique approaches to coming up with their final product.
The youngest competitor, Collin Shaffer, with his grandparents, Theresa and Robert Spencer, worked throughout the night to get his pork right where he wanted it.
“First we started the smoker and made sure that was between 150 and 250 degrees,” Shaffer said. “Then we covered it with mustard, let that sit for a while and then sprayed it with an apple vinegar and apple juice mixture.”
The pork was then placed in the smoker over a bed of charcoal and maple wood. For the next 18 hours Shaffer manned the smoker and made sure to flip the pork and coat it with the apple spray mixture.
Shaffer said he slept just three hours while he smoked the pork.
For others the process wasn’t quite as long. Mort Weakland from Coudersport had a late start to the day and started smoking his pork at 6 a.m. But by the time the competition started Weakland was pulling the pork from the smoker and preparing samples for judges with his friend Eric Pearson.
Weakland competes in about seven or eight competitions a year and actually received an invite to the World Championship in Little Rock, Ark. in 2018. Weakland has been competing in competitions for five or six years, since he bought his own smoker.
“I bought a smoker one day and started messing around, loved the food off of it. Everybody else liked it and it went from there,” Weakland said.
Despite the late start, Weakland claimed the Smoke on the Water trophy by one point. Saturday’s competition marked the first time Weakland used his own signature blend in competition.
“This is fun and anybody can do it,” Weakland said. “Not everybody can do it good, but always get out and try because you never know what will end up turning out.”