by Adam Smith
Paradise Spring Historical Park was full of smoke on Saturday, Sept. 20, but it wasn’t because of a fire. It was the location of the second annual Smokin’ for a Cause charity event.
Smokin’ for a Cause is an amateur backyard barbeque competition that began a few years ago when Gary Henderson, Smokin’ for a Cause board member and co-captain of the Dawg Gone Good BBQ team, received a smoker from his children for Christmas. He said that his son-in-law, Joe Gouvan, claimed to be better at using a smoker than Henderson.
“I told him to find himself a smoker and we’d have a smoke-off in my backyard,” Henderson said.
He couldn’t have predicted how many people would be interested in their little competition. Things quickly went from a two-person competition to having 14 teams registered. The venue also changed from Henderson’s backyard to the parking lot of the Wabash County Historical Museum.
The location went through another change this year. A much larger crowd was expected this time around, and the museum’s parking lot wasn’t going to be big enough. When Smokin’ for a Cause couldn’t have a downtown street closed for the event, they decided Paradise Springs would be the next best place for a big crowd.
There have also been Smokin’ for a Cause events in Auburn and Huntington, but Tim Jones, Smokin’ for a Cause board member and captain of the Smokin’ Jones team, said they didn’t go off as well as the Wabash events have.
“There are lots of people here who want to come together and that’s unique of Wabash,” Jones said.
There were 14 teams competing again this year. Each team prepared a pork butt, spare ribs, pulled pork, and their own barbeque sauce. The teams fired up their smokers Friday night to have everything ready for judging and public tasting by Saturday evening. Every item is judged on appearance, taste, and tenderness. For eight dollars, competition attendees were able to get all the pulled pork they could eat, along with three spare ribs and any of the sides available.