Dondi and Shell’s Food Oasis wins Helena Market Days BBQ Cookoff

Published 10:39 am Tuesday, August 1, 2023

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By EMILY REED | Special to the Reporter

HELENA – Helena Market Days annual Barbecue Cookoff was held on July 8 with about 400 people visiting the market.

“It is one of the market’s most popular events and is always a crowd favorite,” said Amanda Smitherman, an organizer with the event.

Smitherman said contestants “Grilled it Out” participating in six different categories which included chicken, ribs, pork, brisket, sauce and “anything but.”

There were three barbecue contestants: 2 Boots BBQ; Dondi and Shell’s Food Oasis and Raymond’s Bad Butts.

Winners included:

  • Chicken: Dondi and Shell’s Food Oasis
  • Ribs: 2 Boots BBQ
  • Pork: Dondi and Shell’s Food Oasis
  • Brisket: Dondi and Shell’s Food Oasis
  • Sauce: 2 Boots BBQ
  • Anything But: Dondi and Shell’s Food Oasis.

The overall winner for the first place category was Dondi and Shell’s Food Oasis. Coming in second place was 2 Boots BBQ. Honorable mention was Raymond’s Bad Butts and People’s Choice was awarded to Dondi and Shell’s Food Oasis.

“The tough job of judging was left up to the local celebrities,” Smitherman said.

Judges consisted of Matt Fridy, Helena Mayor Brian Puckett, Jarred Welborn, Sanchez Tanniehill and Eldon Woodie.

“The winner of the People’s Choice Award is voted on by guest votes (donations) for the griller that they felt had the best barbecue,” Smitherman said. “The People’s Choice Award is then donated to a local charity. This year’s People’s Choice Award was donated to the Helena Belles, a local community service group for elite teenage girls who strive to make their city of Helena and neighboring communities the best place to live by giving of their time and volunteering.”

Smitherman said the Helena Belles assisted with the Barbecue Cookoff.

“These young ladies consistently give their time every Saturday morning and serve their community by helping at the Farmers Market, week after week,” Smitherman said. “At the barbecue event, the Belle’s assisted contestants and visitors, passed out barbecue samples and  various other tasks that help make the market an enjoyable event for everyone.”

The Helena Market Days kicked off this summer in a new location at the Church at Old Town, moving from Helena’s Amphitheater Park.

The market is held every Saturday from June until the last Saturday in August from 8 a.m. until noon.

For more information about the market, visit Helena Market Days on Facebook or by emailing

The Church at Old Town is located at 815 Highway 52 East.