QUITMAN -- The barbecue cookoff at Griner's Pontiac Chevrolet of Quitman made one area wife happy.

Johnny Whiddon, of Morven, said he is taking his wife Pam to the Biltmore House in North Carolina with the $300 he won for his first-prize chicken.

"I've already called her," Whiddon said after the winner was announced. "She's planning the trip."

The Quitman Kiwanis Club won the first-place prize for the pork ribs category.

The Kiwanis will use the $300 to benefit the children in the community.

"We're just a club of guys having fun," club member Toney Shiver said. "We're doing it for the kids in the community."

The cookoff was held to show customer appreciation, General Sales Manager John Ley said.

Brooks County Sheriff Richard Chafin was one of the judges to test the six teams. Those teams, in addition to the winners, were Park Avenue Bank of Valdosta, Cajun Cookers of Tifton, Wimer Wheeler of Quitman and Frank Wyno of Cherry Lake.

Chafin said the teams were judged based on personal preference.

"We don't pretend to be professional judges at all," Chafin said. "We just went by our own taste."

Chafin said the top choices were both tender and moist with a good overall taste.

"The chicken tasted like chicken, and the ribs tasted like ribs," Chafin said.

Whiddon echoed Chafin's comments when he said most people try to put too many condiments and spices on meat.

Whiddon has been cooking for 20 years for his production meetings with the Brooks County Extension Service. He also runs a catering business called Tanglewood Catering.

Whiddon said he likes to experiment when it comes to cooking.

Wyno and Whiddon shared some tips after the cookoff. Wyno said he uses cranapple juice to marinade his ribs.

Kiwanis' Gerald Golden, who supervised the cooking of the ribs by Floyd Smallwood, said the rib recipe the Kiwanis used was known only to his wife.

During the day, about 250 pounds of ribs and 240 pounds of chicken were cooked, said Wayne Carroll, who was in charge of organizing the event for Griner's.

Colby Ellis, 9, of Morven, said he enjoyed the cookoff. He said he preferred the Cajun Cookers' ribs. Cajun Cookers received the people's choice award later in the day.

"The ribs were pretty good," Colby said. "They kinda tasted country style. I like country style better than baby back."

The next cookoff will be held the weekend before July 4, 2006.

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