Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Iowegians bring their barbecuing passion to Minnesota May 22, 2011

Bubba'Q's logo and slogan on the side of their BBQ trailer.

MEET BUBBA AND SABRINA.

They’re from Ottumwa, Iowa. That’s “A-ttum-wa (short “a”), not “Oh-ttum-wa (Minnesota long “o”).

They’re about as cheerful and friendly a couple as I’ve met. Talkative with a definite accent that I would have placed as more southern Missouri than southeastern Iowa. They set me straight, in a kindly way, on the pronunciation of Ottumwa, a community of 25,000 along the Des Moines River.

Big smiles accompanied their language lesson and an intro to barbecuing at the Minnesota in May BBQ Contest in Faribault Saturday. Nearly 60 teams competed for about $10,000 in prizes in the two-day Kansas City Barbeque Society-sanctioned event.

While Bubba and Sabrina didn’t win a prize this time—they have taken grand champion honors in other competitions—they seem content simply to barbecue, win or not. Clearly, this is their passion.

They own Bubba-Q’s, a restaurant and catering business in Ottumwa that features traditional pit style barbecued meats. The dessert menu of scratch made pies, triple chocolate fudge espresso brownies, banana delight pudding and more sounds mighty tasty too.

I wasn’t able to sample any of Bubba-Q’s meats, but Bubba tells me their style is “a little sweet, a little heat.”

I’ll take his word for it.

The ribs they prepare for competitions differ, they say, from the ribs prepared in their restaurant, where customers prefer them falling-off-the-bone tender. The judges, want tender, but chewable, still on the bone ribs.

The two agree that no matter how often and where they compete, and they’ve traveled to many competitions as far away as New Mexico and Las Vegas, they never quite know what will please the judges. Bubba says that’s OK. Then he smiles. Again. He’s just that kind of guy—with a face that shows he’s happy to be barbecuing, whether in Iowa or Minn-e-soooooo-ta.

Bubba and Sabrina's home on wheels and traveling BBQ central.

Even their pick-up truck advertises their barbecuing passion.

WATCH FOR MORE photos from the Minnesota in May BBQ Contest in future blog posts.

For the first time ever, Faribault hosted the Minnesota in May BBQ Contest at the Rice County Fairgrounds.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

6 Responses to “Iowegians bring their barbecuing passion to Minnesota”

  1. Joanie Says:

    Fun story! Now, I’m hungry. I can’t wait to attend the BBQ Contest at Canterbury Park next month.

  2. Bernie Says:

    I had no idea that you guys had a Bar-b-que fest there.
    They seem like a cute couple. I’m glad you took the time to talk feature them.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      This is actually the first year that Faribault has hosted the Minnesota in May BBQ Contest. In the past, it has been held in Austin.

      We have had a smaller Blue Collar BBQ & Arts Fest, sponsored by The Paradise Center for the Arts for several years. This year that event will be on August 13.

  3. Lori D. Says:

    I’ve had Bubba’s BBQ and it is fantastic! He has such a passion for what he does. You realize that within moments of meeting him.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Exactly, Lori. Even though I didn’t taste Bubba’s BBQ, I definitely sensed his passion for barbecuing. Thanks for the personal recommendation.


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