For years, Gary Prater has been trying to win the best BBQ competition at Smokin’ in McMinnville.
The Prater’s BBQ team finally won Friday night, but with Prater not in attendance. He was was working at his new restaurant in Manchester, a fact family members were quick to point out.
“He could never do it, but we brought it home,” said his niece Stephanie George.
By winning the People’s Choice category, which was determined by popular vote of people sampling the BBQ, Prater’s won $1,000 for My Heart Beats for Shelby. It’s a charity to benefit Shelby Steakley, 21, who went into sudden cardiac arrest July 21 and spent 15 days at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
“Three weeks ago I didn’t know if she’d be here with me,” said her mother Tisha Steakley.
Shelby was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease that is usually tragic.
“The No. 1 symptom of cardiomyopathy is sudden death,” said Tisha.
Shelby came home Aug. 5 and is now in outpatient therapy.
Finishing second in the People’s Choice division was Stuff ’N Things. Third place went to Ross & Company.
In a separate category also held Friday night, the professional judges in town for the Kansas City Barbeque Society competition also judged the BBQ entries. Winning first place and a $500 prize was team Wild Onion, which was cooking for the Motlow College Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
Before Wild Onion was announced as the winner, Security Federal team member Michael Griffith was talking about how his name would look engraved on the trophy. He was stunned to learn Big B’s finished second and his Security Federal team was third.
“If we won every year, it wouldn’t be interesting,” said Griffith.
Jones took the opportunity to get in some good-natured ribbing.
“Michael couldn’t even beat us in a bolgna-cooking contest,” he said refering to an actual bologna contest they had Friday afternoon. “He’s 0-2 today and we’re 2-0.”