May 21, 2024

BBQ samples disappear in minutes, Newton Fest cook-off a success

Low 'n' slow

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Those who were first in line to taste the succulent samples of barbecued meats during the Saturday afternoon barbecue cook-off at Newton Fest should consider themselves lucky. Organizers said every chicken wing, every rib and every serving of pulled pork was gone in about 15 minutes.


Sadly, the Newton Daily News personally confirmed this claim almost a half hour after the sampling was underway. By then, guests had already eaten their fill and were licking their fingers proudly. Empty plates were thrown away in trash bins while the less fortunate late folk (ahem) wept silently while their stomaches bellowed and grumbled in agony.

OK, melodramatics aside, the cook-off was touted as a success by organizers of Newton Fest and by the agency leaders who took charge of the barbecuing event. The Q 4 Causes BBQ Contest attracted 10 teams to compete for a fancy plaque and bragging rights, all while raising money for the local Jasper County Animal Rescue League and Humane Society.

Sean McDermott, a Q 4 Causes representative, said the local organization — and by extension the Newton pit team T-Rex BBQ — was asked to take on responsibility this year of operating the cook-off at Newton Fest. The annual town showcase was the first place T-Rex BBQ competed in a barbecue contest.

“It’s kind of near and dear to our hearts being our very first competition we did,” McDermott said. “So we took it on, but we wanted to do it as a benefit or something that we can help our community with … Every year we’ll pick a different beneficiary, another local nonprofit or cause we feel in the community is needing assistance financial.”

As a result of the Q 4 Causes BBQ Contest, the organization raised $1,625 for the Jasper County Animal Rescue League and Humane Society. The nonprofit dedicated to providing a safehaven and finding homes for homeless animals in the area was set up onsite near the Newton DMACC parking lot.

Taking part in a good cause was just the icing on the cake for pit boss Colten Arment of Junior’s BBQ, who traveled solo from Lynnville to compete and obtain more knowledge barbecuing for judges. Like many of his competitors, he fired up the smoker at around 1 a.m. Saturday in the college lot.

Learning what he can from his father Jeff Arment, owner of Lynnville’s Smokin’ J’s BBQ, the young barbecuer said he would love to take home the plaque, but it’s the experience he’s after.

“This is my second contest,” Colten Arment said, revealing his first was at the Smoke on the Water barbecue competition in Lynnville. “Since I’m just starting out, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can, take what the judges give me and don’t take anything personal from them. Just learn from it and come out stronger next time.”

Pitmasters Brad Cox and Jeremy Breese were new to barbecue contests altogether, as well as Newton Fest. Proprietors of the tongue-in-cheek team Smokehub, Cox and Breese said they enjoyed their experience and loved meeting new people.

Organizers with Q 4 Causes, Cox said, helped coax the Smokehub dudes into joining the cook-off. Cox added he’s glad they took part, acknowledging the people they met as a high point of the event. As far as the competition goes, Cox smiled and shrugged, unsure of how well they would fare against judges.

“We’re going to finish in the top 10,” Cox said with a laugh. “But we make quite a bit of stuff at home. We got a pretty big family that we cook for quite a bit. Had a few friends that do it competitively and it’s always been something fun that we’ve talked about.”

The competitive spirit was rife in the fiery hearts of the pit bosses in 225 Mafia BBQ of Waterloo. Brothers Dan Galle and Randy Galle placed in the top three in the standings and took home the first place prize for best pork.

After leading the Q 4 Causes BBQ Rib Cooking Class the day before, the brothers showed no signs of fatigue by the time food was shipped to the judges’ table, and they were still determined to take home a prize.

Having registered in 11 competitions last year, the Galle brothers take barbecuing very seriously. And Newton Fest was no exception. Heck, the guys have been doing it ever since their dad taught them how when they were kids.

Randy Galle said it plainly: “We want to be the best.”

What is the brothers’ favorite part about competitions? Is it the sampling? The early morning prep work? Or the big reveal? Well, apparently, none of the above.

“Collecting the trophies,” Dan Galle said. “It does feel real good to know other people enjoy your food also. That’s my favorite part of doing barbecue in general. Yes, I love the taste of barbecue, but I love to see other people enjoy my barbecue.”

Winners of the Q 4 Causes BBQ Contest

Grand Champion — Never Easy BBQ

Reserve Grand Champion — Chillin ’N’ Grillin


1. Never Easy BBQ

2. Smokehub BBQ

3. Chillin N Grillin


1. Never Easy BBQ

2. 225 Mafia

3. Chillin N Grillin


1. 225 Mafia

2. Chillin N Grillin

3. Barrel and Bullet BBQ

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or