Brews, Blues and BBQ

Brews, Blues and BBQ event chairman Tom Walther prepared trays of ribs for the annual rib cook-off’s blind taste test at the Yuba Sutter Fairgrounds on Saturday. 

Editor’s Note: This story was slated to run in the Sunday edition, but was inadvertently held out. We apologize for the delay.


While hundreds streamed through the gates at the Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds on Saturday to enjoy quality beer, barbecue and live music, eight judges were carefully tasting ribs for the yearly rib cook-off at the 18th annual Brews, Blues and BBQ event. 

The fundraiser, put on by the Early Risers Kiwanis Club of Yuba City, supports local children’s groups and programs and has raised over $300,000 since it began almost two decades ago.

“And all of that money goes right back to the community,” said Early Risers Kiwanis Club of Yuba City president Dave Flores. 

Event chairman Tom Walther said the cook-off has been a staple of the event for the past six years. 

Six teams spent hours preparing ribs for the competition, arriving at the fairgrounds at 7 a.m. on the day of the event to get cooking. Walther said the Kiwanis Club provided 300 slabs of ribs for the competition and each team prepared over 20 slabs a piece. 

Carson Lock, owner of Lock’d N Smoked BBQ, said it took his crew a solid two hours to get the ribs trimmed and seasoned. 

Competing with a St. Louis-style spare rib this year, Lock said this is his fourth year battling it out at this event. 

“I like competing at this event because I was born and raised in Yuba City and the Kiwanis do such great things for this community,” Lock said. 

When judging began at 4 p.m., each team loaded up eight of their best ribs onto a tray that was sent into the judging hall for a blind taste test. 

Each judge was given a tray with one of each of the six ribs to taste. Each rib was given a score of one through six in three different categories: appearance, taste and tenderness. Some judges ate in silence while others discussed the taste, texture and initial responses to the various ribs. 

After assessing the score cards and crunching the numbers, Walther grabbed a microphone to announce the winners. 

Taking home the award for best barbecue rig was Smoked Barbeque4U. 

Second place in the cook-off went to Carolina Q. Top spot for best ribs went to Ricardo Alcocer of Live Oak.

Alcocer said he cooks his sauced ribs low and slow, giving them sweet-heat flavor.

“Sweetness with a kick on the back end,” Alcocer said. 

Alcocer said he has been barbecuing competitively and catering since 2013 and enjoys this competition because it’s for a good cause. 

After the competition, those same ribs were served to the hundreds in attendance at the event, who got the chance to vote on their favorites as well. 

“It’s amazing to have these competitors come out and dedicate all day to barbecue and raise money for the kids,” Walther said. 

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