Wednesday, May 7, 2014

BBQ is ‘a family affair’ for the Hobgoods of Sebree

J-E News Editor

For most of us, barbecuing is a symbol of summer, spending time with family and having a good time. For one Sebree area family, it is that and a whole lot more.
Hobbie BBQ is a family business that was started by the Hobgood family on a dare, but quickly turned into something much more. Some might even call it an obsession.
“The owner of Diamond Lake talked us into entering their backyard competition,” said Jerry Hobgood. “As fate would have it, we won first in ribs and fourth with Boston butt.”

“We got hooked,” said Merle Hobgood, Jerry’s brother.
The competitive barbecuing team is made up of brothers Jerry, Merle and Jim Hobgood, as well as Jerry’s son Gary Hobgood. They are assisted by their wives and the brothers’ two sisters.
“It’s a family affair,” Jerry explained.
When the group started they had a pair of homemade smokers that they hauled on a flatbed trailer.
“We looked like the Clampets,” Jerry joked.
As they’ve gotten deeper and deeper into the competition, the team has moved up. Now they have top of the line Backwoods smokers that are computer controlled.
Hobbie BBQ is a competitive barbecue team listed with the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). KCBS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue. It is the world’s largest organization of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts with over 15,000 members worldwide.
KCBS sanction competitions are held across the country, including events in nearby Earlington and Owensboro. Teams competing in the events are not allowed to sell their products, but for the teams its not about the money. It about pride and competition.
“We’re definitely not doing this for money,” said Merle. “This is a hobby. An expensive hobby.”
Each team entered into a KCBS competition must prepare six servings of chicken, Boston butt, ribs and brisket. According to Jerry, each competition ends up costing the team around $800. Winnings in each category range from $150 to $400.
Currently the Hobgoods are listed 342 out of around 1,500 KCBS listed teams. They have yet to take a Grand Champion position, but they have placed in the top ten at numerous events.
The team’s goal for 2014 is to be named Grand Champion at least one of the competition that they attend. The highest they have finished in an overall event standings so far was fifth, which they did last year.
“We’ve never been able to hit on all four cylinders at a competition,” Jerry explained.
“It’s the little things that get us,” Gary added. “You can forget to do something and that can cost you.”
“That’s why I’ve started using a list,” Merle said. He explained that his wife made him a check sheet to use that lists every step he needs to do and an approximate time at which to do it.
“These little details is what we need to fix if we want to be one of the top teams in the nation,” Jerry said.
Winning an event would be quite the accomplishment. Gary pointed out that Hobbie BBQ has competed against 15 of the top 20 KCBS teams, including #1 in the nation, Warren County Pork Choopers based in Bowling Green, KY.
“It’s kinda like playing golf,” Merle explained. “If you do it every weekend, you’re going to be better at it.”
Groups like Warren County Pork Choopers expect to compete in around forty competitions this year. Hobbie BBQ will look to do one or two events per month. That’s enough to keep them in practice, and possibly keep them in competition for the Kentucky State Championship, which is held in Springfield, KY in October.
“We’ve got too many other things that we want to do besides cook,” said Jerry, adding that last year the team decided at the last minute to skip an event so they could attend a church fish fry.