Jesse Fliegel, of Rogue River, hands out a sample of chicken Sunday during Battle of the Bones in Central Point. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore


After helping to build a large, barrel-shaped barbecue for a friend's wedding a couple of years ago, Brent McMurtrey said he and some friends were looking for another reason to fire up the grill.

The group, which called itself Shelbyville Char N Grill, was one of 10 teams participating in Battle of the Bones, a barbecue competition and tasting event that took place over the weekend in Central Point.

"We're just redneck barbecuing," said McMurtrey. "We built this big grill and thought, 'Hey, let's go do what we love.' "

McMurtrey said the three-day event was exhausting work, with each team having to prepare hundreds of pounds of meats and chili.

Hundreds of people came out to try the meats, receiving small samples of each from the 10 barbecue teams.

"Most of the teams are running on about two or three hours of sleep," said McMurtrey, who was participating in the cook-off for the second time. "We fell in love with it last year and had to come back," he added.

Each team had to prepare pork, beef, chili and chicken, with judges deciding Sunday who had made the tastiest meat, and attendees voting throughout the weekend for the People's Choice award.

The overall winner for the weekend was "Home on the Range," a barbecuing duo from Redmond.

The champs took home $1,800 as part of the top prize, and smaller cash awards for every category they placed in.

The event also had beer and wine tastings, live music and a popular rib-eating contest.

Rob Daniels sat on stage Sunday afternoon cleaning ribs down to the bone during a quick two-minute challenge.

"It was fun, I'd do it again," Daniels said after the competition. "I didn't get full, though."

Though he polished off four ribs, Daniels wasn't close competition for the winner of the contest, who licked eight ribs clean.

This was the first time the event was sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association, which provided the judging.

The nonprofit organization has traveled around the region for more than 20 years, taking on the enviable task of judging the tastiest barbecued meats at festivals and events.

Mark and Carrie Reed came to the Battle of the Bones for the second time this year, bringing along their daughter Lila to sample meats while they enjoyed a selection of home brews and drafts by local breweries.

"We live in the neighborhood," said Carrie Reed, after trying samples from DB BBQ Sunday afternoon.

DB BBQ, an Eagle Point barbecuing group, walked away with the People's Choice award for best chicken.

While McMurtrey's group didn't come away with any first-place awards, he said the experience was more about having a good time.

"We're not here for the prize money or the awards, but just to see the faces of the good people that enjoy it," said McMurtrey. "I know a lot of the teams, and there's no hard feelings. We have a lot of fun."

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or

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