Rib Throwdown a hit for Historical Society

Trippy Treasures' William Brucker bastes his ribs with his secret sauce during the inaugural Graham Rib Throwdown on Saturday. - David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

SAFFORD — Amateurs and professionals alike put their grilling skills to the test Saturday.

The Graham County Historical Society hosted the inaugural Graham Rib Throwdown at the Graham County Fairgrounds last weekend.

“The amazing smokers out here, the competition was really high,” said William Brucker, who finished in ninth place with his Trippy Treasure Exotic ribs.

On Saturday, rib sales opened to the public at noon, and by 2:30 p.m. all but one of the 17 contestants were sold out.

Andy Moore, of Thatcher, makes sure to get every bit of meat from the rib prepared by the Beefy Boyz. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

The judges awarded SNS OG Barbecue first place, Wildcat Barbecue second, RxR Barbecue third, Root’n Toot’n Barbecue fourth and Smoke on the Water Barbecue fifth.

RxR Barbecue was the people’s choice.

Attendees on Friday were treated to appetizers and desserts.

The event was a fund-raiser for a new Graham County Museum, to be located on the old Stockman’s Bank building on Safford’s Main Street.

“People have been telling us how fantastic this was, so we’re really excited about this,” said Harvey John, Graham County Historical Society president.

Tyson Brown, pitmaster for Swamp Puppies, was working overtime to keep up with demand for the ribs at his booth. – David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central

John added that in 2024 the event will move to February, to join forces with the Eastern Arizona Old Time Fiddlers Association. The Rib Throwdown will share the Fairgrounds space with the annual Gila Valley Fiddle Festival.

There was also an indoor cornhole tournament at Saturday’s rib event, with Morenci’s Back Door Sliders team of Ray Holguin and Andrew Corona going a perfect 5-0 to take the title.