Up Close with Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown Organizers
Now in its second year, the Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown invitational BBQ event is shaping up to be even a bigger success in 2017.
In this session of the BBQ Beat Podcast, I speak with Barbara Latimer and Montana Smith, co-organizers of the invitational. If you’re an event organizer or better yet, if you’re planning to attend the Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown on January 14, 2017, this is the podcast session for you.
Be sure to check out the time stamped show notes below for direct access to specific segments of this podcast session.
Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown Invitational Overview
Last year, the Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown Invitational hosted 47 teams from all over the country. Sanctioned by the FBA (Florida BBQ Association) the event offers a massive $68,000 total payout — paying homage to the year 1968, when Sonny Tillman opened his first Sonny’s BBQ in Gainesville, FL.
Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ, headed by pitmaster Darren Warth, took Grand Championship honors last year, with Killer V Cooking Team earning Reserve Grand. You can see they each had a pretty nice paycheck at the end of this one!
Feedback from Teams Who Cooked Last Year’s Event
I reached out to a couple of teams who cooked last year’s Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown event to see what they had to say about the organization and overall production. As you know, there are some areas where competition BBQ events can really fall apart. You’ll see from these comments that the folks at Sonny’s know how to do it up right.
Great event, even when Mother Nature threw them a curve ball with torrential downpours the day before load in, they made the best of it. We’ll definitely be back. Sonny’s truly puts on a World Class BBQ contest. — Darren Warth, Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ
It was one of the best run BBQ events I’ve ever been to! From the time I pulled in the gate and asked where my spot was to leaving after awards! I’ll definitely go back!! — Heath Riles, Victory Lane BBQ
Prize Money Breakdown for 2017
This year, the Sonny’s Invitational pays to 15 places. Here’s a partial list of prize payouts. You can find the full list here.
- Grand Champion: $20,000
- Reserve Grand Champion: $6,000
- 3rd Place: $4,000
- 4th Place: $3,000
- 5th Place: $2,000
- 6th Place: $1,000
Prizes drop $100 per place down to 15 from here.
- 1st: $1,500
- 2nd: $900
- 3rd: $800
- 4th: $600
- 5th: $400
Prizes drop $50 per place to 15 from here.
Featured Charity: Operation BBQ Relief
The Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown proceeds go to support the good folks at Operation BBQ Relief (OBR). You can find a post detailing their amazing efforts here.
OBR was founded in May, 2011 in response to a need for relief efforts in tornado-stricken Joplin, Missouri, a community of about 50,000 residents. Volunteers of competition BBQ teams from eight states answered the need to help feed displaced families, Police, Fire, National Guard and emergency personnel.
Since May of 2011, Operation BBQ Relief has served over 1 Million meals served in 19 states. Their funding comes from fundraisers, online merchandise sales and donations.
Time Stamped Show Notes
- [1:08] Barbara and Montana share the history of the Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown.
- [3:25] We learn more about the BBQ and family friendly aspect of the Showdown, as well as some of the entertainment visitors can look forward to this year.
- [9:18] Barbara and Montana discuss the massive appeal the Sonny’s Showdown has for teams not only in Florida but for those from across the country as well. Key point made here: “When you have the best of the best coming to your event from all over the country, you have to be sure and treat them as such.”
- [13:07] Barbara and Montana talk about the Master judge selection process and how they’re selecting judges from several different national sanctioning bodies to round out the evaluation experience. “We want to make sure that we have the most experienced judges.” Special mention here is a bit about how well Sonny’s treats its judges for this event.
- [17:31] BBQ Competitions live and die by the infrastructure they put into place. In this section, we talk about the infrastructure Sonny’s uses for the Showdown. Big Rigs needing 50 watt amps – no problem! Bring your big boy rigs!
- [20:31] Montana shares information on the judges location and event setup improvements Sonny’s is making for this year’s event – including accommodations for wet weather, the addition of shuttles for attendees, and more.
- [26:25 ]Barbara and Montana share some final thoughts about what this year’s event holds in store for cook teams and attendees.
The 2017 Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown is sure to be one of the biggest competition BBQ events of the new year. As you can tell from this interview, a lot of hard work and planning is going into making sure that cook teams, judges, and attendees have an experience to remember.
Looking for More Information on the 2017 Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown?
If you want more information on the Sonny’s Smokin’ Showdown event, you can learn more here:
- Website: http://sonnysshowdown.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SonnysShowdown/
- Event Date: January 14, 2017
- Event Location: Sanford Zoo, 3755 US-17, Sanford, FL 32771
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