Bringing the sweet and heat: East Helena hosts first-ever barbecue competition

East Helena welcomed its first-ever national-qualifying barbecue competition over the weekend, featuring 24 teams from across the western states competing for a charitable cause, as well as the title of grand champion and sharing more than $9,000 in cash prizes.

“Talk of a four-hour backyard-style barbecue turned into this, the East Helena Smoke Show,” Ryan Luchau, executive director of Impact Montana, said.

Kick Back Barbecue, owned by Jessie and Aaron Kochman out of Belgrade, prepare to serve up some meat at the East Helena Smoke Show.

BRIDGET PACK, Independent Record

Missouri River Brewing Co. hosted this fundraising event on Saturday and Sunday for Impact Montana in collaboration with the local barbecue community, who wanted to bring that fire to Montana.

“We were so lucky to get so many teams here; we were hoping for 15 and got 24 entries,” said competitor and event collaborator Anthony Schaan. “Within the first two weeks, 12 teams signed up.”

For a competition to be considered qualified, it must have at least 15 competitors. The Kansas City Barbeque Society, a Missouri-based competitive cooking organization, sanctioned the East Helena event,

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