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  • May 30, 2024 4 min read

    About This Episode  

    In the latest episode of the Ol' Boy Podcast, hosts Chad Ward and Rub Bagby take us on a nostalgic journey through the world of competition barbecue. The camaraderie, hard work, and unyielding passion they share for perfecting their craft serve as an inspiration for barbecue enthusiasts everywhere. Here’s a comprehensive look into the key highlights from their engaging conversation. 

    The Humble Beginnings: From School Cookouts to Competitions 

    Rub Bagby's journey into the world of barbecue is nothing short of inspirational. Starting with cooking pork and delivering it at school to generate funds for competition entry fees, Rub's early days were marked by determination. Despite initial losses, perseverance led to eventual victories. Rub's story is a testament to how grassroots efforts can lay the foundation for a successful career in the highly competitive barbecue industry. 

    Building a Brand: From Local to National Fame 

    Rub’s meticulously crafted sauces and rubs began as modest ventures aimed at covering costs. However, these flavors quickly gained nationwide popularity. Chad Ward's admiration for Rub's products highlights their timeless appeal and effectiveness in competitions. Rub's emphasis on balanced, non-offensive flavors serves as a valuable lesson for aspiring pitmasters aiming to impress judges and win titles.


    The Blue-Collar Ethic: Hard Work and Dedication 

    Both hosts underscore the hard work and dedication required in competition barbecue. Rub discusses the physical toll it takes, recounting stories of injuries and perseverance. From showing up stitched at 04:00 after a boat race accident to triumphing with a broken ankle, Rub exemplifies the relentless spirit required to succeed. The humor and resilience displayed during these challenging times underscore the blue-collar work ethic celebrated in the barbecue community.   

    The Art of Reinvention: Adapting and Innovating 

    Adaptation is key in the ever-changing landscape of competition barbecue. Rub’s food truck business, known for its unique offerings like the barbecue sundae, showcases his ability to innovate. Reusing leftovers to create new dishes, such as rib tacos, is another example of how continuous experimentation and creativity can keep a barbecue business thriving.   

    The Community Spirit: Nostalgia for the Old Days 

    Chad and Rub reminisce about the camaraderie and shared experiences in the barbecue world. They express nostalgia for the old days, fondly recalling memorable contests and victories. The declining number of contests and increasing costs reflect broader changes in the industry, but the sense of community and shared memories remain a constant source of joy and fulfillment. 

    Victory Stories: Perseverance and Triumph 

    Several anecdotes from past contests illustrate the highs and lows of competition barbecue. Whether it’s winning despite starting late or bagging a championship in Florida with a unique trophy, these stories highlight the importance of perseverance. Notably, Rub’s victory at a contest in Franklin, North Carolina, which qualified him for the prestigious Jack Daniels competition, showcases the rewarding outcomes of hard work and dedication.   

    Learning and Mentorship: Passing the Torch 

    Rub’s role as a mentor is emphasized throughout the episode. Whether it’s through teaching classes or guiding aspiring pitmasters, Rub’s focus on providing feedback and fostering learning is crucial. The early days of Internet usage and message boards, along with resources like ebooks, underline the importance of continual learning and practice in mastering barbecue techniques. 

    Embracing Change: The Role of Social Media 

    Barbecue pitmasters today have the advantage of social media for self-promotion and marketing. Rub discusses utilizing platforms like Facebook to promote his food truck, reflecting on how the digital age has opened new avenues for engagement and business growth. This evolution in barbecue marketing underscores the importance of adapting to modern tools while maintaining traditional values. 

    The Path Forward: Encouraging the Next Generation 

    Rub's journey from a special needs educator to a barbecue champion is laden with valuable lessons for aspiring pitmasters. His emphasis on motivation, hard work, and goal-setting resonates throughout the podcast. Encouraging others to pursue their aspirations, Rub and Chad conclude the episode with heartfelt expressions of gratitude for their friendship, support, and shared achievements.   

    The Ol' Boy Podcast episode with Rub Bagby and Chad Ward offers a rich tapestry of stories, insights, and reflections. Their conversation not only celebrates the spirit of barbecue but also serves as an inspiring guide for anyone passionate about the craft. The ever-evolving landscape of competition barbecue is brightened by individuals like Rub and Chad, whose dedication and love for the art continue to inspire and uplift the community.  

    Listen Here


    “...I had won six grand champ state championships throughout the year." 

    • Rub Bagby¬†¬†

     3 Fun Facts About This Episode

    1. Chad Ward humorously mentioned that his and Rub Bagby's initial barbecue team in 2007 was more of a 'drinking team' than a serious barbecue team.  
    1. Rub Bagby has a unique injury story where he once showed up to a contest stitched up after an accident during a boat race event.  
    1. Despite initially working with a limited budget, Rub Bagby's barbecue sauces and rubs grew into a nationwide brand, which he initially couldn't believe would happen. 

    Where to Follow Rub Bagby