Smokey D's takes Grand Champion at BBQ on the River
by Kelly Paul
Paducah - In his second year after taking control of the Smokey D's team at the 20th Annual BBQ on the River in Paducah, Justin Smith led the team to the top prize of Grand Champion.
David Smith, owner of Smokey D's Family Restaurant in La Center, let his son, Justin, take the reigns last year after he decided he wanted the next generation to step up. At the time, he said, " For me, it's a family thing." He and his son have been cooking barbeque since Justin was 12 years old. "We've been working on this for 10 years," David Smith said after he grabbed the team's trophy.
Justin Smith is among some of the youngest cooks that competed at this year's BBQ on the River. At 24, the 2008 Ballard Memorial High School Graduate used his BBQ and leadership skills to nudge Kentucky Moonswiners-formerly known as Smokin' Hose-out of the coveted top spot. Last year, the tables were turned, with Kentucky Moonswiners taking the top prize and Smokey D's grabbing Grand Reserve Champion.
This is the 11th year Smokey D's has participated in the event. The team's charity this year was Ballard Memorial's Project Graduation. As Grand Champion, Smokey D's had top scores across the board and took first prize in the shoulder category.
Justin Smith, who lives in Livingston County with his wife and young son, says he will return to next year's BBQ on the River to defend his team's Grand Champion title.