Local News

The Real Smokin Aces crowned Grand Champion at 2021 Big Blue Barbecue

The Real Smoking Aces of Grand Haven, Michigan, were crowned 2021 Grand Champion on the 4th Annual Big Blue Barbeque held Aug. 13-14 at the Shelby County Fairgrounds in Shelbyville.

Reserve Grand Champion was Smoke-N-Peppers from New Palestine, Indiana.

The sanctioned Kansas City Barbecue Competition offered over $8,000 in cash prizes.

More than 30 teams from across the United States competed in four meat classifications, as well as ancillary dessert and a Kid’s Q competition.


Photo provided

From left: Tina and Doug Todd of Smoke-N-Peppers competition barbecue team and Mark Rasmussen and Scott Melchi of The Real Smokin Aces competition barbecue team were crowned Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion, respectively, of the 2021 Big Blue Barbecue.


Teams are judged by certified Master Judges from KCBS. Meats judged were chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. They were judged and evaluated for taste, appearance and texture, with taste carrying the most “weight.”

By the end of the competition, judges can consume over four pounds of meat in a two-hour timeframe.

“On a normal year, we have the competition, along with a Big Blue festival that is open to the public and features live bands, a beer garden, lots of great foods and a car show. However, this year – as in 2020 – we had to cancel the public side due to the lingering COVID-19 issues,” said Rachael Ackley, Executive Director of Shelby County Visitors Bureau. “We notified our tourism promotional partners of our required modifications to the event, but we still had some visitors show up for the event. However, they did not leave disappointed, as several of our competition teams served up samples once turn-ins were complete.”

“2022 will be our 5th anniversary of the Big Blue Barbecue. Hopefully, we will be back to the public side of the festival, and will be able to offer a great event to locals and visitors alike,” said Nisha Ciarletta, operations manager at the visitors bureau.

The 2022 Big Blue Barbecue is tentatively slated for Aug. 12-13, 2022.