Saturday, August 23, 2014


“What a great day.” “We mark this event on our calendar each year as a ‘must attend’”. “Delicious!” “This is the friendliest community we’ve ever been to.” “This is the best!” “We love coming here for the barbeque.”  Booths offering toys, sweets, breads, kettle corn, and other items for sale, kids running with pet dogs, the tantalizing aroma of barbeque, and smiling faces add up to a great event on the Island. Rain had been predicted for the weekend but it was generally overcast and muggy.

The excitement builds as teams start arriving on the Island as early as Thursday before the Saturday competition. They head to the airport where they set up and begin preparations. This year there were 27 teams. The Friday night before the open public event includes a fish boil dinner at the airport prepared by KK Fiske welcomes the teams and family members that accompany them.  Emmett Woods hosts a star gazing event if there are clear views.

The public began to converge at the airport at 10 A.M. on Saturday arriving by car, truck, cherry train, bike, motor cycle, moped, or on foot. There were special children’s activities at the Farm Museum to co-ordinate with the DDBQ event. Eating, shopping, visiting, and drinking ensued followed by eating, shopping, visiting, and drinking. Providing special music mid-day were local talents, a brother and sister, Jesse and Annabelle Hansen. In the afternoon there was a magician performing under the big tent. 

The Death’s Door Barbeque culminated in the anticipated announcement of winners under the big tent at about 5 P.M. Dick Jepsen, one of the main organizers of the DDBBQ this year, welcomed everyone.  He asked for a moment of silence in memory of Fred Hankwitz who died from cancer earlier in the year. Fred and Lisa Gibson began this popular and successful event and this is the third year. Town chairman, Joel Gunnlaugsson spoke and thanked in particular the Washington Island Ferry Line, the Washington Island Electric Company, the Town of Washington, other sponsors, and he added appreciation for everyone attending, the teams, soundman Emmett Woods, and all others who made the special event possible.

Joel announced the winners presented by the judges to the enthusiastic group gathered under the tent.  The dessert category top winner was T-Mac Smokin’.  Frickin’ Chicken came in second. There were 14 entries with those top two receiving payouts.

The top five winners who received payouts in the chicken category were (5) Hot Ash BBQ; (4) Fox River BBQ; (3)Parbutt heads; (2) Big City BBQ; (1) Da Rev and Animal BBQ Krewe.

Pork winner top five were: (5) Buckaroo BBQ; (4) T-Mac Smokin’; (3) Fox River BBQ; (2) Badger BBQ; (1) Freeman Brothers.

Pork ribs winners: (5) Tim’s Full Belli Delli; (4) Pits and Spits; (3) T-Mac BBQ; (2) Fat Andy’s Backyard BBQ; (1) DD’s BBQ.

Brisket category top five: (5) Above the Bridge; (4) Fox River BBQ; (3) ABC BBQ; (2) Chef’s Gone Grillin’ (1) Crash Test Smokers.

With anticipation building the final overall winners were announced with the Reserve Grand Champion as the Crash Test Smokers and the Grand Champion, winning the grand prize of $7500 was Fox River BBQ.

Winner of the raffle for the smoker and half a hog was a lady from Wausau, Wisconsin.

The Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctions and judges BBQ competitions across the U.S. and promotes barbeque as America’s cuisine. It is the largest society of barbeque enthusiasts in the world.  The KCBS provides certified judges that utilize a blind judging process so they are unaware of what team has submitted entries. KCBS sanctions nearly 300 events across the country in 44 states. Chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket are the main categories and the entries are judged on taste, appearance, and texture.

The DDBQ committee members this year included: Lisa Gibson, Dick Jepson, Janet Hanlin, Butch Gordon, Andy Munao, Carol Stayton, Marsha Williams, Amy Rose, Kathy Meader, Mary Andersen, Tom Nikolai, Bill Nauta.  Many, many volunteers help with the myriad of duties such as directing parking, selling tickets, responding to the needs of the teams, trash pick-up and more.