A hobby turns into a growing business for Oregon County man

Thursday, May 31, 2012
Ray Ward (far right), owner of Ray Ray's BBQ, joins his cooking team to show off the first place trophy they won at the first annual Fin to Fur Cookoff at Thayer on May 12. Ward, an Oregon County resident, also sells a line of his special barbecue sauce and all purpose rub at area stores. Photo by/Steven Looney

Ray Ward is the proud owner of Ray Ray's Smokehouse BBQ. Ray Ray's is a family owned and operated business located at the northern end of Oregon County in the Birch Tree -- Thomasville area. Ward entered the Fin to Fur smoke-off earlier this month, and won first place. He has been selling the meat at small festivals a couple times a year, so the competition was a first for his business. Ward says, "We are a Christian family and before we went to the competition I prayed that God would allow me to do my best, whether win, lose, or draw; when they announced my name that was very humbling. We want our peers to acknowledge what we are doing and didn't swell my head but sure did swell my heart."

The small business started by selling BBQ sauce and an all-purpose rub in November 2010 and he has just recently begun catering. They have a mobile catering trailer and are available to cater/sell smoked meats for events and parties. Ward is also a full time UPS driver, but is looking forward to operating his business full time when he is retired. Right now, he is trying to work up his customer base. He says, "We try to have a good time, be reasonable with our prices, and hope people enjoy our meat."

Ray Ray's Smokehouse BBQ can be found in Thayer at Harp's, Town and Country, Hirsch Feed, and Fin to Fur; Alton at Harp's and Young's Feed Store; West Plains at Country Mart, Hirsch Feed, Meadowbrook, the Visitor Center, and the Howell County Outpost.

Contact Ray at (417) 764-3744, (417) 270-6963, or by e-mail Ray@RayRaysBBQ.com. They are currently working on a catering menu and look forward to catering your next event!

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