April 2016
Youth Matters

4-H Extension Corner: Anna’s Famous!

Anna Montgomery wearing her chicken hat is used on the label of her Anna’s Famous Sauce.  
   

Alabama 4-H’er’s dream of marketing her own BBQ sauce becomes reality.

For Anna Montgomery, her Alabama 4-H career opened the door to her own food business. A successful Marshall County 4-H Club member for 10 years, she competed in Chicken-Que nine out of 10 years and won first place at every level except for one year when she took home second place at district roundup. She won third place in Turkey-Que in 2008 at the national Poultry and Egg competition and, at the 2010 national competition, she placed fourth in Chicken-Que.

Montgomery’s Famous Barbecue Sauce

Montgomery first created the sauce for her chicken in 2003.

"It was something my family came up with so I would stand out in competition," she said. "Plus, I wanted something that I really liked. Marketing my own barbecue sauce has always been a dream. My family has been involved from day one and they have been super helpful and encouraging. Anna’s Famous Sauce is just as much theirs as it is mine. Last year just happened to be the year we could really work on the process."

Anna’s Famous Barbecue Sauce made its retail debut in February 2016. It is available in local stores in Marshall County and for sale online.

"I cannot begin to say how proud I am to see Anna’s Famous Barbecue Sauce on the market," said Amy Burgess, a former 4-H regional agent and current Extension coordinator in Etowah County.

"As a Marshall County 4-H’er, Anna truly mastered the 4-H Chicken-Que project. She even created her own sauce recipe with a secret ingredient. Today, that sauce is being bottled by Anna and her family for local distribution. She dreamed BIG to ‘Make the Best Better.’"

Why Chicken-Que?

"The day before our County Roundup, I was informed about my options for competing. Chicken-Que stuck out to me because my dad was a certified barbecue judge with the Kansas City Barbecue Society. I had gone to a few competitions with him, so I thought participating in Chicken-Que was best for me," Montgomery recalled.

She practiced smoking chicken for the first time the night before the competition. Then, the next morning, she competed in the Marshall County competition and won first place. She was 10 years old.

Left to right, these ribbons and trophies are some of the ones Montgomery has won in Chicken-Que contests; and Montgomery cooking some chicken for a competition.

 

4-H’s Positive Influence

"4-H was an amazing part of my life," Montgomery said.

Beyond Chicken-Que, she competed in photography, quilting, baked foods and public speaking.

"4-H greatly influenced my character, too," she said. "I spent most of my years in 4-H doing some form of leadership in my school club, county club, and on regional and state councils.

"On top of bringing out the leader in me, 4-H also encouraged me to volunteer in and around my community. It was because of my immense community service that I was awarded full tuition to Snead State Community College"

Team Top Chick a Family Affair

In 2004, the Montgomery family – Ron, Allison, Anna, Nancy and Trent – formed Team Top Chick, largely because of Anna’s success in the 4-H Chicken-Que contests. They began competing in various Kansas City Barbecue Society-sponsored events in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. At one time they were ranked in the top 1 percent of competition barbecue teams in the nation and have won two grand championships – one in Gallatin, Tennessee, and the other in Gadsden.

Today, Anna is a graduate of the University of North Alabama, with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a minor in Family Studies. She is in the process of applying to multiple universities to pursue a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Currently she is employed as a crew trainer for Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Donna Reynolds is the communication editor of news and public affairs with ACES in Auburn.