Posted: 11:00 a.m. Monday, Aug. 11, 2014

Local BBQ restaurant captures 1st place at Ohio State Fair


Texas-style barbecue for Texas-size appetites for low price photo
Hickory River Smokehouse in Tipp City offers Texas-style barbecue in the form of sandwiches, plates and combo platters. The restaurant, easily accessible off Interstate 75, offers dine-in, carryout, drive-through and catering services. (MICHELLE FONG/STAFF)

By Mark Fisher

Staff Writer

The Hickory River Smokehouse barbecue restaurant in Tipp City captured the first-place “Grand Champion” designation for “best pulled pork” in the recently completed Ohio State Fair Pork “Rib-Off” Competition.

Hickory River was judged the best of seven restaurants from around the state that competed in the pulled-pork category. There were no other southwest Ohio barbecue restaurants competing in the category this year.

The Grand Champion designation comes with a $1,000 prize, but Hickory River’s owners say the award means more than money.

“This really validates to us that we’re doing something right,” restaurant co-owner Maria Davis said this morning. Davis and her husband Dan have operated the Tipp City restaurant since 2011, when they bought it from Hickory River founders Brad and Krista Bowman.

This is the fifth time Hickory River has won the “grand champion” designation at the fair for its pulled pork. Its other first-place awards came in consecutive years from 2008 through 2011. The restaurant has also won Ohio State Fair grand-champion awards at the fair for its ribs and sauce. The restaurant has an on-site smokehouse.

The competition is overseen by the Ohio Pork Producers Council. Winners were chosen by a panel of five judges, which included a representative of the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio State Fair General Manager Virgil Strickler, a Kansas City Barbecue Society Certified Judge, a celebrity judge, and a representative of the Ohio Soybean Council.

The Hickory River Smokehouse restaurant concept is expanding, although not in southwest Ohio.

The Texas-style barbecue restaurant concept was launched in 1995 in Urbana, Illinois. There are now six locations in Illinois, a new location that opened in June in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, and a second Ohio location coming soon to the Cleveland area, Davis said.

The Tipp City restaurant is located at 135 S. Garber Drive just off I-75. It is open daily for lunch and dinner. For more information, call (937) 669-2271, or visit


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