by Emily Armentrout
The Smokin’ for a Cause idea started when two guys received smokers for Christmas and in typical guy fashion, started friendly smack talk between themselves and others in the community,
“Once Joe and Gary got going back and forth on whose pork was better, I took my dad’s smoker and started smoking. It turned out pretty well my first couple tries so I got involved,” said Kyle McCoart.
The friendly smack talk continued at the Smokin’ for a Cause event that took place Saturday, Sept. 21 down in the Wabash County Museum parking lot. You could hear jokes about bribing judges or being disqualified for branding meat as you walked through the parking lot where the 14 teams had set up their tents and smokers since the night before. Smack talking aside, the atmosphere was fun and friendly.
“This is the first event in Wabash County for amateur backyard barbeque. We have 14 teams, but already have more teams interested in participating next year. Hopefully we can shut the street down and keep the fun going,” added McCoart.
Wabash businesses seem interested in continuing this event. They are already planning on returning to the Wabash County Museum parking lot area for the event next year. Also, the Wabash Marketplace donated a brick that will have the winning team engraved on it and they want to add to it every year.
Donations and support were never an issue according to McCoart. Due to a generous donation, each team was able to receive a pork shoulder and one rack of ribs, which were used for the judging process and to feed the community. Also, two whole hogs were donated to be smoked and sold as part of a meal to the community.
“The teams were judged on either a pork butt or pork shoulder and spare ribs, trimmed to a St. Louis style, like you’d see on TV,” said McCoart. “The judging process will be similar to a Kansas City barbeque event. It’s going to be blind judging, which means we will turn the meat into a volunteer at the booth, they will give us a random number and they will turn our meat into the judge with that number. The meat is judged on appearance, taste and tenderness,” continued McCoart.
The winners of the first Smokin’ for a Cause event was Holy Smokes BBQ. Greg Coyne captained the team. “There’s a lot of trial and error. I’ve been smoking for a little over two years and I’ve found recipes that I liked and tweaked to make them even better. A lot of practice, serving a lot of people for feedback. We were just fortunate to win today. We’re thankful. God is good. I have a great team. It’s been fun. No real secret; just doing it properly,” Coyne told The Paper.
So what is the “cause” behind Smokin’ for a Cause? This year, the recipient of this fundraiser was the Life Center in Wabash. “In order to raise money, the community could come down and purchase tickets which would get them pulled pork and ribs. Also, they could buy tickets for the whole hog meal,” said Steve Hicks. “We’ve already been asked to go to other communities as fundraisers too,” added Hicks.
“Gary Henderson and Steve Hicks came to me and asked if we would be the recipient of the first annual Smokin’ for a Cause event,” Cheryl Meyer, executive director of the Life Center, told The Paper. “The Life Center has been around since 1984. All our services are free, but we work strictly on donations. The proceeds of this event will go to our ultrasound fund, which allows the Life Center to give free ultrasounds to local pregnant women. Also, the proceeds will go to help purchase supplies like pre-natal vitamins, diapers, etc., when donations are down.”
According to Meyer, from January of this year to Friday, Sept. 20, the Life Center has done 114 pregnancy tests and 60 ultra sounds. In 2012, they performed 161 pregnancy tests and did 76 ultra sounds. The Life Center also has a clothing room where they try to keep supplied with everything a child, newborn through 4-5 years old, may need, like outfits, shoes, socks, diapers, wipes, baby food and formula, blankets, etc. Clients are welcome to use that service once a month.
If people from the community would like to make donations to the Life Center, they can bring their donation directly to the center, located at 78 W. Hill Street in Wabash. Their business hours are Mondays from 1-5 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-4 p.m.
There were approximately 800 people from the community who attended this event. Smokin’ for a Cause raised about $6,300 dollars, all of which went to the Life Center.
“This will help us continue to have a supply of those items that we give away on an almost daily basis. We want to thank the organizers of Smokin’ for a Cause. We want them to know how much we appreciate being the first recipients of this event and we look forward to helping out next year,” said Meyer.