2014 Memphis in May Barbeque Contest..Once Again!

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2014 Memphis in May Barbeque Contest..Once Again!
The days are full of contests, 16 different categories over 3 days. The nights are full of raging parties, many of which have huge buffet dinners, DJ’s, light shows, dance floors and multiple bars on multiple stories of a BBQ booth. When I say booth, I know you picture a ten foot by ten foot EZ-up with a table and some smokers. NOPE! These monstrosities are larger than most people’s houses. Many are 26ft wide by 50ft deep. That is 1300 square feet, before you start adding levels to them… That’s right MULTIPLE STORY booths. Some of these scaffolding-boned portable structures are 3 stories tall, that’s 3900 square feet of Pure Porkin’ Party.
Thursday is the Best Booth, Best T-shirt, and the Ms. Piggie Idol contest. First two are self-explanatory, the third is well….more complicated. Performers wear elaborate costumes, many featuring full-figured men in Pig Drag, singing porked up versions of popular songs. An absolute MUST SEE! The best time to connect with teams is on this day. Go around and ask about their cookers, no team can resist showing off. Awards are in the early evening and then a band is called in to finish out the night…this year it is Cowboy Mouth.
Friday is chocked full of competition cooking with the ancillary division contests. Categories include Tomato, Mustard and Vinegar Sauces; meat categories which include Beef, Poultry, Exotic, and Seafood, as well as the Hot Wings contest. A band plays before the awards, and then another after. Many cooking teams throw down the party on Thursday but are very much reserved on Friday night in anticipation for Saturday’s turn-ins. Of course that is just the cooking crew (about 5 people), the REST of the team, which on some teams include up to 200 members, live high on the hog and party till the cops shut them down for quiet time at midnight!
Saturday is held in the reverence of a Sunday morning Baptist church. There are no loud stereos, no parties, and no sign of the Carnival like atmosphere of the previous days. Today we celebrate and piously reflect upon the main pork categories of Ribs, Shoulder, and Whole Hog. Every team has a blind box to turn in, and three onsite judges to schmooze. Booths are dolled up prettier than a 5th Avenue fine dining restaurant. Silver platters hold racks of ribs, exotic lettuces and fruits ornately decorate grilles and smokers, and you could even spot a team or two wearing tuxes, and greeting judges with a maitre d’. After all is said and done the long wait begins…only 3 teams from each category make the finals. We all wait for a smiling guy in a golf cart to attach a sign to your fence, signaling you are a finalist. When this happens, and HUGE cheer erupts, then you go into panic mode. That sign means 4 judges are coming to your booth to judge your pork. Fast forward to 6:30pm, everyone gathers at the main stage for the awards. The MC comes on and announces 10th through 1st place. If you didn’t final you pray for 4th-10th a HUGE honor in a field of 250.
I LOVE this contest; it is one of the highlights of my year. Why you ask? Excitement, pure and simple. Where else in the world can you find a BBQ contest two football fields wide and a full mile long with the majestic Mississippi as a backdrop. Where else in the World can you meet BBQ enthusiasts from across the globe. The Norwegian National BBQ Team, or the Black Pig from Canada. Where else can you rub hoofs with some of the best in BBQ, people in the world. Every year as that warm orange sun sinks into the Big Muddy, casting its amber hues over 100,000 swine worshippers, competitors reflect upon its beauty with true reverence. Dreams are realized and shattered here, blood and tears are spilt, deep friendships are cemented, and lifelong dreams are granted…there is NO place on earth like Memphis in May.
Do yourself a favor, plan a trip to attend.
We are the Barbeque Doctors and Gang!


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