The sweet, smoky aroma of barbecue welcomed Tuesday’s Ohio State Fair-goers as the 21st Annual Pork Rib-Off enjoyed another successful go, crowning the latest round of Ohio cooking champions.
Five officials were on hand for the blind judging of the day’s food, including Ohio State Fair General Manager Virgil Strickler, Ohio Expo Commission Chair and Ohio Soybean Council’s Steve Reinhard, Representative Brian Hill, Senator Bob Peterson (President Pro Tempore of the Ohio Senate), and Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels. All noted fine entries from each participating organization.
Red Pig Inn of Ottawa, Ohio was the big winner of the day, taking home the titles of Grand Champion Ribs, Reserve Champion Pulled Pork, and the People’s Choice Award.
The hometown restaurant had won the event in the past, though had not entered for 10 years. Steven Wagner accepted the awards on behalf of the Red Pig Inn and said it had been a long day of cooking the pork to perfection, but it was all worth it in the end.
“Coming in here and almost doing a clean sweep if you would say in my first tournament or first rib-off in awhile,” Wagner said. “I can’t thank the people at State Fair enough today for coming in and voting for us and loving our products.
“It’s been a family-owned restaurant since 1975 and I’m blessed. Today’s great. I got two hours of sleep last night in anticipation for this today, so I think it’s well-deserved and I can’t wait to go back to Ottawa and celebrate tonight.”
Scores of visitors to the state fair waited in stretched lines at each of the eight BBQ booths around the event area between the Voinovich Center and the Taste of Ohio Café. Each individual was able to place their vote, with the entrant with the most tallies getting the coveted People’s Choice.
Defending champions Baney-Q of Columbus were named the Grand Champions of the Pulled Pork category.
The Reserve Champion Ribs trophy was awarded to Smokem if you Gotem BBQ of Middleport.
In addition to their trophies, winners took home cash prizes courtesy of the Ohio Pork Council.
The Ohio Pork Council uses the event as a tool to recognize the value, utility, and delectability of pork.
The Ohio Soybean Council partnered with OH-Pork to give their own award recognizing the best BBQ sauce using soybean oil, of which Smokem if you Gotem BBQ was the top organization.
The Food and Drug Administration this week officially noted soybean oil as a heart healthy ingredient, contributing to reduced risk of coronary heart disease and lower LDL-cholesterol.