I had the opportunity to travel back to Murphysboro, IL this weekend and attend 17th Street BBQ's annual competition, Praise the Lard. This is the second time I've attended the event, but the first time that I was able to stay for the awards ceremony on Saturday night.
This event is a little unique in that it's a combined event with both a Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) & and a Memphis BBQ Network (MBN) contest occuring at the same time. KCBS contests feature stricly blind judging in the categoreis of chicken, ribs, pulled pork, and brisket. While MBN contests feature both blind judging and team presentations in the categories of whole hog, pork shoulder, and ribs. Some teams competing this weekend entered both contests, while other (and probably the majority of the) teams entered only one or the other.
The more involved in the BBQ culture I become, the more friends and acquitances I acquire. Carey Bringle & his team at Peg Leg Porker welcomed me and allowed me to hang out with them on Saturday. I watched Carey's presentations for shoulder & ribs and gained a new appreciation for the MBN teams. I was pulling for Carey and his guys to bring home some hardware from the event. While they fell a little short in the 3 MBN categories, I thought it was fitting that they did win the Ambassador's Award for hospitatliy and showmanship. They were gracious hosts and I enjoyed hanging out with them.
I connected with Jeff at BBQ ProShop who particiapted as a judge for the KCBS competition. I'm a customer of Jeff's and it was good to put a face with the name. Jeff's a great guy and I encourage you to look him up if you're in need of rubs, sauces, and accessories for your own BBQ adventures.
I also got a chance to connect with my Backwoods Smokers dealer, Brian Luke. I met Brian at Praise the Lard a couple of years ago and bought a Backwoods Fatboy from him. Brian also let me hang out with him in Steeleville, IL last spring. Another great BBQ guy.
There are lots of others, but I can't name them all. It's a really neat community of folks who enjoy competing and sharing their love for BBQ. I look forward to doing it again real soon.
Oh yeah, there was a competition going on too. Tower Rock BBQ pulled off a clean sweep in all 3 MBN categories and walked away with Grand Champion honors. On the KCBS side, Gilly's Barnstormin' BBQ took Grand Champion.
Here's a link to a larger set of photos from the event.