The Colusa County Backyard BBQ Challenge was held on Friday night at the Colusa County Fair. Blue smoke filled the air and forecasted the time for seared protein. A bag of briquettes, a Weber grill, tri-tip, and shrimp – the “mystery meat” – were provided by local pit boss Don Litchfield, owner of Rocco’s Bar & Grill in Colusa. But fairgoers were relegated to the food trucks as this barbecue was strictly for the taste buds of the judges.
For an entry fee of $25, the winners were offered $200 for first place, $75 and a cutting board made by a student for second place, and $50 for third place.
Entrants were responsible for flavoring the meats and had to prepare a complementing side dish. Meanwhile, judges were responsible to vote on appearance, taste, originality, difficulty, and cleanliness.
A turnout of eight teams gave judges plenty to chew on: Pins Pit BBQ, Desperado, Kirk’s Ag Repair, Team Miller Light, Beans & Crackers, Beat My Brother, Team Weber, and A Town Nuts, the last ultimately winning the evening competition with Fabian Gomez manning the tongs.
Judging the event was Colusa Mayor Greg Ponciano and Juan Hernandez, owner and butcher for Colusa Meat Market, to whom locals come for advice on which cut is appropriate for the meal they are shopping for. Litchfield, chef at Rocco’s, was the third judge. Litchfield has been honing his barbecue game for over 20 years. ■