KANSAS CITY, MO. – The Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) recently crowned the winners of its two largest barbecue competitions: the KCBS World Invitational and the KCBS Team of the Year points winners.

The KCBS World Invitational, presented by Smithfield Foods, held its annual head-to-head barbecue pitmasters competition at the Prairie Band Casino & Resort in Mayetta, Kan., on Nov. 13-14. This year’s event was an invitation of champions and qualifiers from the Master Series division pitmasters. Contestants needed to be a Grand Champion or Reserve Grand Champion at a KCBS-sanctioned barbecue contest between Jan. 1, 2019, and July 31, 2020.

Todd Smith of Smoking Butt Heads in Welford, SC, was victorious as the 2020 KCBS Master Series World Champion. 

“We love the competition in the sport of barbecue and challenges to always be better at the next contest,” Smith said. “The great people we have become friends with are a special bonus. The willingness of everyone to help each other is something most people never get to experience in sports. There is no better sport that has all these aspects.”

Later in the weekend, the KCBS recognized its 2020 KCBS Team of the Year points chase champions. Two points separated World Champion Brad Leighninger of Gettin’ Basted from Springfield, Mo., from Reserve Grand World Champion Joe Pearce of Slap’s BBQ from Kansas City, Kan. Both teams traveled hundreds of miles to cook in the closing hours of the 2020 KCBS Team of the Year season. 

“We are so proud of all of the KCBS pitmasters who qualified and competed for a World Champion title in our World Invitational and year-round Team of the Year points chase,” said Emily Detwiler, chief executive officer of KCBS. “We congratulate the Master Series pitmasters demonstrating they are at the top of their game and welcome the Backyard Series teams who continue to prove they are accomplished pitmasters on the road to becoming Masters, too.” 

KCBS crowned Darren Warth of Iowa’s Smokey D’s BBQ in Des Moines, Iowa, the KCBS World Invitational Master Series Reserve Grand Championship. Champions were also announced in the individual meat categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork and brisket. 

The KCBS World Invitational also included the finale of the 2020 Turkey Smoke Series turkey ancillary contest that KCBS holds in partnership with the National Turkey Federation. The Turkey Smoke championship went to Local Smoke BBQ of Brielle, NJ. This turkey event was part of nine barbecue events held across the United States.  

A new item was added to the overall 2020 competition as well. The Backyard Series division features amateur pitmasters competing for the title of KCBS Overall Backyard Series World Champion. Dennis Bowman of Bowman’s Butt & BBQ from Christiansburg, Va., won the Grand Championship and David Puckett of Puckdaddy’s Killer Q of Athens, Ala., won the Reserve Grand Championship. 

KCBS’ first-ever Backyard Series Team of the Year awards also recognized the best in chicken and ribs. The new Backyard Chicken World Champion is Russell Allen of Redbones BBQ from Florence, Ala. Also, the World Champion title for KCBS Team of the Year in Backyard Ribs, was Patrick Swindoll of Lee La Q from Cullman, Ala.

Throughout 2020, more than 2,800 pitmasters from across the United States and in 42 countries competed in this program.