John’s Bar-B-Q sauce places in the American Royal

By Shakara Shepard
ONL Lead Reporter

A group of 70 Certified Barbecue Judges assembled at the American Royal in May to participate in a blind tasting of a record setting 606 barbecue sauce entries. The assembled judges evaluated barbecue sauces submitted from 43 states and 13 countries. The furthest entry came from Melbourne, Australia traveling 9,282 miles to compete. This year’s contest was the largest in its history with over 150 more entries than in 2016.

Okemah’s very own John’s Bar-B-Q took home the runner up ribbon for the Mild Tomato category. There were a total of 218 entries in this category alone. In the overall ranking, John’s Bar-B-Q placed ninth out of 606 teams. John Stovall and Kenny Root have been perfecting the winning sauce for over 20 years now.

You can purchase John’s  Bar-B-Q sauce at John’s Pizza, south of Love’s in Okemah.

“The American Royal World Series of Barbecue Sauce Contest is open to any producer of a retail barbecue sauce and provides the opportunity for them to put their sauce up against other sauces from around the world for the chance to be named “Best Sauce on the Planet,” said Lynn Parman, President and CEO of the American Royal. “The contest continues to grow and this year we saw an increase in the number of entries and the number of states and countries represented.”

Sauces were judged in a blind tasting on their appearance, texture, taste alone, and taste on unseasoned barbecue meat. Entries were judged in 5 categories, Mild Tomato, Hot Tomato, Mustard, Vinegar, and Specialty. Full results from the contest can be found at

Kenny Root (left) and John Stovall stand proudly after receiving their winning ribbon last week from the Kansas City American Royal.

Woven through the history of Kansas City since 1899, the American Royal provides opportunities for youth and adults from around the country to compete in our Livestock Show, ProRodeo, Horse Shows, and the World Series of Barbecue. These events allow the American Royal, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, to give over $1 million annually for youth scholarships and support agriculture education programs. In 2016, over 90,000 attendees attended American Royal events generating over $60 million of economic impact.

Leave a Comment